The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical is presented by the Drama Desk, a committee which comprises New York City theatre critics, writers, and editors. It honors the book writers of musicals produced on Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway, and for legitimate not-for-profit theaters.
It was not until the 15th Annual Drama Desk Awards in 1969 that a specific category for Outstanding Lyrics was created. The first recipient was Peter Stone for 1776. With three each, Hugh Wheeler, James Lapine, and Thomas Meehan are tied for the most wins in this category.
For two years, in addition to the award for Outstanding Book, an award was presented to the writers of the Most Promising Book. Recipients of this honor were Melvin Van Peebles for Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death in 1972 and Ron House and Diz White for El Grande de Coco-Cola in 1973.