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On March 16, 1950, a consortium of book publishing groups sponsored the first annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Their goal was to enhance the public´s awareness of exceptional books written by fellow Americans, and to increase the popularity of reading in general. The National Book Awards have become the nation´s preeminent literary prizes, and The National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner the most important event on the literary calendar. The Awards are given to recognize achievements in four genres: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People´s Literature. The Winners, selected by five-member, independent judging panels for each genre, receive a cash award and a crystal sculpture.