LONDON A book offering advice on how to protect chicken coops from goblins has won the Oddest Book Title of the Year award, organizers of the contest said on Friday.
"Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop" by Reginald Bakeley and Clint Marsh attracted 38 percent of 1,225 online votes to beat craft manual "How Tea Cosies Changed the World" with 31 percent to win the 35th annual Diagram Prize.
Third place went to a book by Tom Hickman titled "God's Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis".
Also shortlisted for the award this year was a study of Adolf Hitler's health titled "Was Hitler Ill?", "Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts", and a guidebook titled "How to Sharpen Pencils".
Philip Stone, coordinator of the prize run by industry publication the Bookseller, said the award might seem just fun but publishers and booksellers were well aware that a title can make all the difference to the sales of a book.
"It spotlights an undervalued art that can make or break a work of literature," Stone said in a statement.
He cited books such as "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian", "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" as owing part of their success to odd titles.
"The kind of niche, off-beat publications that often appear on the Diagram Prize shortlist might not make their writers or publishers rich beyond their wildest dreams, but the fact writers still passionately write such works and publishers are still willing to invest in them is a marvelous thing that deserves to be celebrated," Stone added.
The Diagram Prize was founded at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1978, and past winners include "Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice" and last year's "Cooking with Poo", a Thai cookbook by Bangkok resident Saiyuud Diwong whose nickname is Poo.
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith)