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Rowling tops Quills Awards, but voting is light

NEW YORK -- J.K. Rowling, Jon Stewart, and Stephen King were among the winners last night of the first annual Quills Awards, people's choice book prizes better known so far to the industry than to the public. Rowling, author of the multimillion-selling Harry Potter books, won for book of the year and best children's chapter book for ''Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

''You've made a sleep-deprived mother very happy," Rowling, mother of a baby girl, said in a videotaped acceptance speech.

Other winners included Sue Monk Kidd's ''The Mermaid Chair" for general fiction and David McCullough's ''1776" for history/current events/politics. Stewart's ''America (The Book)" won for best humor book and for best audio book. King and Stewart O'Nan won in the sports category for ''Faithful," their chronicle of the Red Sox's 2004 season, when the team won the World Series.

The Quills include 19 categories, ranging from history and general fiction to sports, cooking, and business. In monthlong voting that ended Sept. 19, fans picked their favorites on the Quills website, The winners were revealed at a black-tie ceremony that will air Oct. 22. Fourteen NBC stations have committed to televising it.

The awards, organized by NBC-TV and Reed Business Information, which issues Variety and Publishers Weekly, were started as a way of getting the public more interested in book prizes.

But the Quills can hardly claim a broad mandate with readers. According to comScore Networks Inc., which tracks the Internet, the Quills site attracted so little Web traffic during the voting period, fewer than the threshold of 25,000 unique visits a week, that it can't even offer an exact number.

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