The Reading the West Book Awards are a celebration of the MPIBA region and and our regional authors!


Reading the West Book Award short-list titles and winners exemplify the best in fiction and non-fiction writing and illustration, set in the MPIBA region (Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming), created by a regional author or artist, and/or invoking the spirit of the region.

Nominations for the 2019 Reading the West Book Awards open on October 1, 2019


The prize is open to authors who live or work in the MPIBA region,

as well as any book that invokes the spirit of the West.

All nominated books must have been originally published in 2019. 

Booksellers from the region review all submissions to create a shortlist to be voted on by the public.

Past winners include:

Peter Heller, Kevin Fedarko, Terry Tempest Williams, Kent Nelson, Sandra Cisneros, Hampton Sides, Brady Udall, Pam Houston, Rudolfo Anaya, Rick Bass, Joy Harjo, and Wallace Stegner — to name only a few. Click here for the complete list of award winners.

Award Categories:
  • Adult Fiction
  • Adult Narrative Non-Fiction
  • Adult Photography, Art, Illustrated Non-fiction
  • Young Adult (for ages 13+)
  • Young Readers (for ages 7 – 12)
  • Picture Book
  • Eating the West: Regional Cookbook/Culinary Writing
  • Reading the West Advocacy Award
    • Given to an outstanding book that promotes equity and inclusivity and addresses themes of social, economic and/or environmental justice. Submissions from all genres of fiction and non-fiction including kids and teen books are encouraged to apply.


Eligible titles originally published: January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019


Nomination Period: October 1, 2019 – January 30, 2020


Long-list Announced: February 5, 2020

Short-list Announced: April 15, 2020

Public Voting: April 20 – May 17, 2020

Winners Announced: May 20, 2020

Regional Bookstore Display Contest: April 15 – June 30, 2020

Nominations Details:

  • Accepted via on-line form, October 1, 2019 – January 30, 2020
  • MPIBA member booksellers, publishers, sales reps, authors, and industry professionals may make nominations.
  • Nomination fee is $150 per title.
      • Publishers and authors must pay when submitting a title for consideration (credit card or invoice due upon receipt).
  • Other nominations will be accepted when approved and paid for by a publisher or the nominator.
  • Publisher or nominator must commit to providing reading copies for the appropriate award selection committee members (4 to 8 copies depending on the category).
  • Nominated titles must be available to booksellers via mainstream distribution channels.


Selection Process:

  • A long-list is created from all nominated titles.
  • Reading the West Book Award committees, made up of regional booksellers, will read and curate the long-list titles to create a shortlist of five titles per award category.
  • The shortlists will be announced in April, and voting will begin with promotion to bookstores and booksellers and the reading public.
  • Category winners are determined by bookseller and public voting.


Judging criteria:

  • Spirit of place: Does the author understand our region emotionally as well as geographically? Is the book’s portrayal of the region reliable? Does the book contribute to the reader’s understanding of the region? Do the story, characters and/or subject matter speak to the diversity of readers in our region?
  • Inspiring: Does the book capture the indefinable quality that inspires MPIBA booksellers to help a title get the attention it deserves?
  • Quality: Is the book of a high artistic quality and/or extremely well-written?


Publicity and promotions for the awards and nominated titles:

  • Long-list titles promoted on MPIBA website with links in e-newsletters and social media.
  • National media release for shortlist announcement.
  • E-newsletter and extensive social media outreach for shortlist announcement and opening of membership voting.
  • National media release for announcement of winners.
  • E-newsletter and extensive social media outreach for announcement of winners.
  • Region-wide bookstore display contest for the shortlist and winning titles.
  • Downloadable fliers, bookmarks, shelf-talkers, and signage provided to MPIBA member bookstores for promoting the Reading the West program and titles.
  • Digital assets for e-newsletters, websites, and social media provided to MPIBA members for promoting the program and titles.
  • Winning titles promoted in Fall 2020 Holiday Gift Guide Catalog.