That's because (quite cutely, from a PR point of view) it comes in two stages. Stage one came earlier this week when winners were announced in five primary categories - novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children's.
Each category winner takes a not-to-be-sneezed-at £5,000. The overall winner, to be announced at the obligatory posh do later on this month, is selected from among the category winners.
So, unlike the Booker, a bloated, pretentious or downright obscure literary novel doesn't necessarily win. In other words, it's a breath of fresh air - past winners, for instance, include Philip Pullman for a (nominally) children's book, The Amber Spyglass.
The prize: Whitbread Book of the Year
The wonga: £25,000
The time: 27 January 2004
The place: The Brewery, London EC1