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Book on goblin-proofing chicken coops wins Oddest Title

Title won prize despite competition from a book on Adolf Hitler's health, and a book on how to sharpen pencils

A book full of instructions and advice on how to protect chicken coops from goblins has won the Oddest Book Title of the Year award.

'Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop', by Reginald Bakeley and Clint Marsh was the clear winner of the Diagram Prize, attracting 38 per cent of the 1,225 online votes. It beat off stiff competition from 'How Tea Cosies Changed the World', which had 31 per cent of the vote, and 'God's Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis', with 14 per cent of the vote. The awards are run by industry publication The Bookseller.

The books US editor Clint Marsh said: "On behalf of Reginald Bakeley and Conari Press, I am honoured to accept this award. The Diagram Prize celebrates the playfulness that is at the heart of much of the world's best book publishing. Reginald and I take this as a clear sign that people have had enough of goblins in their chicken coops. Our campaign against the fairy kingdom continues."

Horace Bent, The Bookseller's diarist and custodian of the prize, said: "The public have chosen a hugely important work regarding the best way to protect one's fowl from the fairy realm's most bothersome creatures. Everyone knows well the hazards cats, dogs and foxes hold for owners of chickens, not to mention red mite, but the public has recognised the need to illuminate this hitherto under-reported nuisance."

Other titles shortlisted for the award included a book on Adolf Hitler's health, entitled 'Was Hitler Ill?', 'How to Sharpen Pencils', and 'Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts'.

Although the award may seem to be a bit of fun, publishers and booksellers are well aware that the title of a book can make a huge difference to book sales. Philip Stone, who co-ordinates the award, said: "It spotlights an undervalued art that can make or break a work of literature." He pointed to 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' as a great example of books which owe their success in part to their bizarre title.

Stone adds: "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 marvellous thing that deserves to be celebrated."

Last year, 'Cooking with Poo' won the unusual award. It's not as bad as it sounds, though - it's a Thai cookbook by Saiyuud Diwong, whose nickname is Poo.