How to watch ABIA 2021 online!

26 Apr 2021

The 2021 ABIA Virtual Awards star-studded event features Cate Blanchett, Malcolm Turnbull, Turia Pitt, Nat’s What I Reckon, Matthew McConaughey, Trent Dalton, Charlotte Wood, Casey Bennetto and many more. Plus a special live performance from musician Ash Grunwald! You can have a sneak peak at the program here.

The book industry’s night of nights is NOT to be missed, even if you can’t be at Carriageworks. For the first time ever, we’re holding a physical and virtual award ceremony at the same time. So please, join us at 8pm this Wednesday 28th of April and click here to tune in live.

Best Aussie book retailers of 2020 – innovative in the pandemic

22 Apr 2021

Dominique Lamb, the CEO of the National Retail Association admires the ingenuity of Australian booksellers:

COVID forced retailers of all stripes to bolster their digital services and booksellers were no different. Reading is a favourite pastime for many Australians and book retailers showed tremendous innovation to ensure shoppers were still able to get a book in their hand during lockdowns. Despite the challenges of 2020, roughly $2.3 billion was spent at Australian book stores throughout the year. This is a phenomenal achievement and well done to book retailers across the country.

Read about the efforts of the six book retailers who comprise the shortlist for the ABIA Retailer of the Year Award. Winners announced on 28 April. Get your tickets.

Retail was hit for six in 2020 but these six book retailers showed resilience, creativity and passion for trade despite the odds. 

Thankfully, in their favour, picking up a book was a key escape for Australians in lockdown and living with restrictions.

Congratulations to the shortlist. 

Big W 

Big W Logo

160+ Stores Australia wide employing 22,000 people. 

In 2020 BIG W gave away more than 5.2 million children’s books in its stores, and another 80,000 books to communities in need. Their research into how COVID affected families’ relationships to books uncovered that over 70% of parents had not bought books because of financial constraints yet almost half were reading to their children more often. Big W prioritised books, committed to giving more families access to books, and grew sales by over 17%. The chain accelerated its digital capabilities when the pandemic began, ensuring access to books in innovative ways in partnership with publishers including a new Podcast, YouTube readings and sing-a-longs, and downloadable activity sheets. 


Australia’s main online bookstore, Booktopia employs approximately 200 full time staff. It’s headquarters are in Lidcombe, Sydney. 

Photo courtesy of Booktopia.

Late in 2019, Booktopia took on the online assets and many of the staff from the Co-Op Bookshop after it went into administration. Booktopia acted fast so that there was no disruption to access to textbooks, and in 2020 became the leading retailer of tertiary books in the country. COVID impacts meant restricted access to facilities, as any COVID cases in the organisation could result in Australians not being able to access books. Booktopia actively supported staff to work from home and pivoted swiftly from in-person to remote activities. To further support Australian reading habits, Booktopia partnered with one of the world’s leading digital media platforms, Rakuten Kobo, increasing the number of available ebooks and introducing streamable audiobooks to the catalogue, including a subscription model.


Seven shops across Melbourne city, employing roughly 120 staff. 

Readings Carlton store. Photo courtesy of Readings.

Readings faced unique challenges in 2020 as the only Victorian based national book retailer. With shops closed, or able to open with only limited services for almost six months, the independent retailer had to rethink its whole organisation to continue trading. Over half their business was done online and was centered on customers in Victoria but also spanned the country and the globe. They continued printing their monthly magazine, and awarding three writing prizes. They were also able to retain all of their staff during the turbulence. 175 launch and author events transitioned online despite being coordinated by just one person! They attracted a total audience of over 23,000 nationally and internationally. 

QBD Books

QBD was founded in the late 1800s. Its 76 stores are in major shopping centres in every state across the country. 

QBD Logan store. Photo courtesy of QBD Books.


QBD opened three more stores in 2020 despite COVID, adding 33 new jobs in Western Sydney and Melbourne. They sold more than 68,000 copies of their Books of the Month winning around 50% share of the market for those titles in that month. They started a Children’s Book of the Month program that sold more than 20,000 books. 

Harry Hartog Bookseller

With a focus on sustainable and Australian products, Harry Hartog has 11 stores across ACT, SA, QLD and NSW, employing 120 staff overall. 

Harry Hartog store, Miranda. Photo courtesy of Harry Hartog. 


In 2020 Harry Hartog successfully shifted from a head office buying model to a local shop specific buying model, empowering shop managers to best service their customers with books relevant for the demographic as well as supporting local authors. During 2020 it launched the Curated Book List service, in which customers could fill in a digital form and booksellers would supply a personalised book recommendation list. 2700 lists were completed over the peak of the first wave, delivering many of them via the establishment of a Home Delivery service. A later Loyalty Membership drive increased their subscriber base by 28%. A dedicated staff member was also hired as a mentor and trainer for the team. 


With 65 stores nationally and some in New Zealand and Hong Kong, Dymocks is an Australian-founded privately owned bookstore chain. 

Dymocks Eastlands. Photo courtesy of Dymocks. 


At the beginning of 2020, Dymocks Stores around Australia enabled $1 Round Up at POS to raise funds to support children whose lives were affected by the devastating bushfires across Australia. Dymocks Children’s Charities were able to deliver $330,000 worth of children’s books to evacuations centres, schools and volunteer groups. In April 2020, with all schools facing the unprecedented task of swiftly supporting home-based learning; many with limited resources the Dymocks Booklover community and Dymocks Children’s Charities ran two Covid-19 Appeals and were able to provide over $200,000 worth of books, games and puzzles to children impacted by the lockdowns across Australia. This year the chain also continued phasing out the use of plastic bags. 

The ABIA winners will be announced on 28 April. Get your tickets here.

Business Award shortlist + Hall of Fame inductees

19 Apr 2021

The ABIA celebrate the professionals in the book business – the dedicated individuals and teams who bring stories to life, authors dreams to reality, and books to the right readers. 

Today we announce the shortlist in the Business Award categories and also the two people who will be inducted into the book industry’s illustrious Hall of Fame. 

Mandy Macky is this year’s Lloyd O’Neil Award recipient. This award recognises outstanding service to the Australian Book Industry by an individual with exceptional long service to the industry. Mandy Macky has been the Dymocks, Adelaide Rundle Mall, bookshop owner for 30 years and has recently announced her retirement. Generosity, tireless mentoring and business leadership have marked her career. 

Managing Director of Dymocks Retail Mark Newman has shared, “Mandy has championed innumerable initiatives and improvements within the business. Mandy is a wonderful mentor to her loyal and dedicated team, finding their strengths and then encouraging them to follow through and improve and have some control of those areas. She sets the highest standards for customer service, and her willingness to go the extra distance for a customer is an example the team follow. Dymocks is honoured to have had a long and fruitful association with Mandy and congratulate her on this well deserved prestigious award.”

The second individual to be added to the Hall of Fame in 2021 is children’s publisher Maryann Ballantyne, of independent press Wild Dog Books, who is named as the 2021 Pixie O’Harris Award recipient.

The Pixie O’Harris Award recognises industry representatives who have worked consistently in the field of children’s literature, demonstrated commitment beyond the call of duty, and who have developed a reputation for their contribution. Previous Pixie O’Harris Award recipient and children’s book publisher Jane Covernton AM has said, “Maryann has always been passionate about publishing new authors and illustrators and stories that ‘tell us something about ourselves’ and reflect upon ‘where Australia has come from and who we are now’. She is known for her fierce intellect and curiosity, her innate sense of style, taste and judgement, her unswerving loyalty to her authors and illustrators and her great respect and commitment to the Australian publishing industry.” 

Bookshops and booksellers are key to the success of the industry and this year, the businesses shortlisted for National Retailer of the Year and Bookshop of the Year are:

National Retailer of the Year shortlist

  • Big W
  • Dymocks
  • Harry Hartog
  • QBD Books
  • Readings

The judging panel remarked that, “Book retailers have cemented their place as an essential element of Australian life in the past year. 

Each and every shortlisted retailer excelled in their own market, capturing the imaginations of the Australian reading public. They have innovated, evolved and grown, and are key partners to the ongoing success of the Australian publishing industry.”

Bookshop of the Year shortlist

  • Avid Reader (Brisbane)
  • Books Kinokuniya (Sydney)
  • Mary Martin Bookshop Southgate (Melbourne)
  • Matilda Bookshop (Adelaide)
  • The Little Bookroom (Melbourne)
  • The Sun Bookshop (Yarraville)

Judges comments: “All the entered stores, in particular the shortlist, show fantastic evidence of the value of bookshops in Australia. The shortlisted entries exemplify this through their innovation, resilience and community engagement. Regional bookstores in particular play a vital part in their communities and the stores entered from regional areas exemplified this. 

The role of bookshops in Victoria was invaluable during the extended lockdown, through reading, engagement and innovation they became the lifeblood of their communities.” 

Publishers large and small are also celebrated for their professionalism, efforts and successes in bringing books to life. This year the shortlists for the Publisher of the Year and the Small Publisher of the Year are:

Small publisher of the year shortlist

  • Affirm Press
  • Australian Scholarly Publishing 
  • Cordite Publishing Inc.
  • Magabala Books
  • Pantera Press
  • University of Queensland Press

The judges have said, “Small Publishers in Australia are innovative, creative and essential. The range of publishers represented on the shortlist, each with a unique focus and position within the cultural landscape of this country is testament to this.”

Publisher of the year shortlist

  • Allen & Unwin
  • Hachette Australia
  • Hardie Grant Publishing 
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Pan Macmillan Australia
  • Penguin Random House Australia

The Judging panel has said they, “would like to acknowledge the immense support Australian publishers offered their retailer partners throughout 2020, they were proactive in reaching out with help for booksellers around the country. It was a collaborative effort amongst the entire industry and as a result Australian publishing had one of its best years on record. 

“It was an incredible year all round for Australian voices, with publishers focussing on, and investing their time and resources in local authors. The industry as a whole has elevated their efforts to great success. 

Between now and the ABIA event on 28 April we will share in-depth stories about these people and businesses. 

You can catch more about Mandy Macky in this week’s interview on Better Reading. 

Who deserves to win? Get to know the Publisher of the Year shortlistees

15 Apr 2021
They’re already winners after last year.

2020 was a good year for larger publishers in terms of book sales and profits, but it wasn’t easily done. Much effort was expended to ensure books could reach audiences amidst lockdowns all the while keeping staff safe. Groundbreaking campaigns had to be hastily transitioned to online environments and were executed with finesse and success, warehouses were kept whirring in operation, connections and support to booksellers increased, and shifts in inclusive and accessible publishing were made. It was a trying year but one where those in the business should be proud of what was achieved.

You can read about what these six shortlisted large Australian publishers did across 2020 to make them worthy contenders for the ABIA Publisher of the Year award. 

The winner will be announced on 28 April 2021.

Get your tickets to be part of the ceremony here.

Congratulations to the shortlist:

Pan Macmillan Australia 

Last year Pan Macmillan established Australia’s biggest book promotion and first sustainable supermarket collectibles campaign. The partnership with Coles featured the Little Treehouse books by bestselling author/illustrator duo, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, with 24 individual titles of 64 pages each, delivered start-to-finish in just six months. The delivery fell in the middle of the pandemic, with the papermill located in Wuhan! Little Treehouse reached over 8 million homes (80% of households) and campaign awareness reached 90-95% nationally. 

Pan Macmillan also introduced a new printer to the Australian market, which was deemed a crucial move for the entire Australian book industry. Also in 2020, every staff member of the company undertook cultural competency training, with immediate impact on publishing and operations, and a Cultural Competency Group was set up to nurture, grow and amplify BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) storytelling and events within Australia.

Hachette Australia 

In 2020 Group Publishing Director of Hachette Australia, Fiona Hazard, was actively involved in the Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative, helping to implement AIPI’s recommendations to make Hachette ebooks and digital audio books DAISY compliant. 

The partnership with State Libraries Queensland/black&write! continued to uncover great Indigenous writing talent. Nardi Simpson’s Song of the Crocodile sold 8,266 copies in 2020 and received critical acclaim. Hachette also produced the When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clark. Both books have been shortlisted for a 2021 ABIA.

Allen & Unwin

The Allen & Unwin sales team focused on supporting booksellers affected by lockdowns during the pandemic. Tailored point of sale and window displays assisted booksellers in different stages of restrictions, and bespoke ordering information and customised information helped busy booksellers focus on the best books in periods of changing trading. Allen & Unwin worked with Anh Do and booksellers to make the first book in his Mythix series available for free to young readers, during the school holiday period of the first lockdown.

Across the year Allen & Unwin published 246 new titles, all available in print and digital formats. They secured 199 rights and co-edition sales, across 57 countries. Allen & Unwin rose to meet the challenges of 2020 with determination and innovation.

Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House Australia was in the Bookscan #1 spot for 32 weeks in 2020. It ended the year with six of the Top 20 and 35 in the Top 100. 22 of these were locally published, driving more growth than any other publisher in the Australian category. Early in the pandemic PRH implemented a project to improve supply resilience with continual focus on speed to market to ensure high levels of availability and improvements to information via the UBD portal. Bookseller feedback continues to be incredibly complementary about PRH and UBD, particularly focused on turnaround times and ultimately believed they remained the benchmark in 2020. PRH delivered a comprehensive program of staff development opportunities, launched a raft of diversity and inclusion initiatives and deepened its commitment to community and industry.

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

HarperCollins ran four writing prizes for new voices and published 17 debut authors in 2020. The publisher had over 120 titles which sold more than 10,000 copies each – almost half these were Australian published titles.

The publisher launched the “Books Bring Us Together” retail campaign in August to help reignite sales for independent bookstores coming out of lockdown. Showing excellent customer service, despite social distancing requirements, shipping delays and border closures, the Harper Entertainment Distribution Services team didn’t falter, providing a safe workplace and supporting customers with extended payment terms, no minimum order values and delivering books on time during the height of the pandemic.

Hardie Grant Publishing

Hardie Grant had a successful global strategy taking Australian authors to the world. Forty percent of their print book sales in 2020 were made outside of Australia. Sales of Malcolm Turnbull’s memoir at the onset of the pandemic gave a morale boost and showed a way forward for other booksellers and publishers. A pivoted campaign led to sales of 12,000 ebooks, 11,000 audio and 65,000 books making this one of the bestselling titles for the year for the industry. 

By establishing businesses in London and in San Francisco the company has properly exploited the publishing generated in Australia in all the key English language markets. This enables global income on a greater scale than is possible in the Australian market alone, and at higher percentage royalties earned than traditional export sales. Authors are their core investment and they work to deliver them the highest earnings. In the year 2020 Hardie Grant exceeded its five-year benchmark target for sales in the United States two years ahead of schedule. Their substantial foreign rights and co-editions business totalled sales of $1.3 million.

Purchase tickets to see who wins in live time.

ABIA 2021 Shortlist

12 Apr 2021

Congratulations to all our shortlistees for 2021!

The winners will be announced at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) on Wednesday 28 April 2021 at Carriageworks, in association with the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

You can buy your tickets here or subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch the event online!

Audio Book of the Year 

  • Tell Me Why, Archie Roach; narrated by Archie Roach (Sound Kitchen, Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia) 
  • The Happiest Man on Earth, Eddie Jaku; narrated by Jacek Koman (Macmillan Australia Audio, Pan Macmillan Australia)
  • Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder & Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark, Julia Baird; narrated by Julia Baird (Bolinda, HarperAudio, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Mammoth, Chris Flynn; narrated by Rupert Degas (Wavesound, Wavesound)
  • Honeybee, Craig Silvey; narrated by Harvey Zielinsky (Wavesound/Allen & Unwin, Wavesound/Allen & Unwin)

Biography Book of the Year Presented by Borrowbox

  • A Bigger Picture, Malcolm Turnbull (Hardie Grant Publishing, Hardie Grant Books)
  • Boy on Fire: The Young Nick Cave, Mark Mordue (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate)
  • Paul Kelly, Stuart Coupe (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Hachette Australia)
  • The Happiest Man on Earth, Eddie Jaku (Pan Macmillan Australia, Macmillan Australia)
  • Truganini, Cassandra Pybus (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)

Book of the Year for Older Children (ages 13+)  

  • Aurora Burning: The Aurora Cycle 2, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Future Girl, Asphyxia (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Jane Doe and the Key of All Souls, Jeremy Lachlan (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing)
  • Please Don’t Hug Me, Kay Kerr (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)

Book of the Year for Younger Children (ages 7-12) 

  • Finding Our Heart, Thomas Mayor; Illustrated by Blak Douglas (Hardie Grant Publishing, Hardie Grant Travel)
  • Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow, Jessica Townsend (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Lothian Children’s Books)
  • The Grandest Bookshop in the World, Amelia Mellor (Affirm Press, Affirm Press)
  • The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals, Sami Bayly (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Lothian Children’s Books)
  • Took The Children Away, Archie Roach; Illustrated by Ruby Hunter (Simon & Schuster Australia , Simon & Schuster Australia)

Children’s Picture Book of the Year (ages 0-6)  

  • Bluey: The Creek, Bluey (Penguin Random House, Puffin)
  • Our Home, Our Heartbeat, Adam Briggs, Kate Moon and Rachael Sarra (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, Little Hare)
  • Sing Me the Summer, Jane Godwin and Alison Lester (Affirm Press, Affirm Press)
  • When We Say Black Lives Matter, Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Lothian Children’s Books)
  • Windows, Jonathan Bentley and Patrick Guest (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, Little Hare)

General Fiction Book of the Year Presented by Booktopia

  • The Dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams (Affirm Press, Affirm Press)
  • The Godmothers, Monica McInerney (Penguin Random House, Michael Joseph)
  • The Good Turn, Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Morbids, Ewa Ramsey (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • The Survivors, Jane Harper (Pan Macmillan Australia, Macmillan Australia)

General Non-fiction Book of the Year Presented by Copyright Agency

  • Phosphorescence: On awe, wonder and things that sustain you when the world goes dark, Julia Baird (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate)
  • The Golden Maze: A biography of Prague, Richard Fidler (HarperCollins Publishers, ABC Books)
  • The Space Between, Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald (Penguin Random House, Viking)
  • Un-cook Yourself: A Ratbag’s Rules for Life, Nat’s What I Reckon (Penguin Random House, Ebury Australia)
  • Women and Leadership, Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Penguin Random House, Vintage Australia)

Illustrated Book of the Year  

  • A Year of Simple Family Food, Julia Busuttil Nishimura (Pan Macmillan Australia, Plum)
  • Beatrix Bakes, Natalie Paull (Hardie Grant Publishing, Hardie Grant Books)
  • In Praise of Veg, Alice Zaslavsky (Allen & Unwin, Murdoch Books)
  • Loving Country, Bruce Pascoe and Vicky Shukuroglou (Hardie Grant Publishing, Hardie Grant Travel)
  • Plantopedia, Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan (Smith Street Books, Smith Street Books)

International Book of the Year  

  • A Promised Land, Barack Obama (Penguin Random House, Viking)
  • Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Headline)
  • Ottolenghi FLAVOUR, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage (Penguin Random House, Ebury Press)
  • Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Circus)
  • Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, Florence Given (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Cassell)

Literary Fiction Book of the Year  

  • A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing, Jessie Tu (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • A Room Made of Leaves, Kate Grenville (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • All Our Shimmering Skies, Trent Dalton (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate)
  • Honeybee, Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Sorrow and Bliss, Meg Mason (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate)

Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year  

  • Glimpses of Utopia: Real ideas for a fairer world, Jess Scully (Pantera Press, Pantera Press)
  • Living on Stolen Land, Ambelin Kwaymullina (Magabala Books)
  • Stone Sky Gold Mountain, Mirandi Riwoe (University of Queensland Press, UQP)
  • The Animals in That Country, Laura Jean McKay (Scribe Publications, Scribe Publications)
  • The Rain Heron, Robbie Arnott (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)

Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year 

  • Bindi, Kirli Saunders; Illustrated by Dub Leffler (Magabala Books)
  • Family, Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson; Illustrated by Jasmine Seymour (Magabala Books)
  • Found, Bruce Pascoe and Charmaine Ledden-Lewis (Magabala Books)
  • Metal Fish, Falling Snow, Cath Moore (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)
  • My Shadow is Pink, Scott Stuart (Larrikin House Publishing, Larrikin House) 

The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year Presented by Simpsons Solicitors

  • A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing, Jessie Tu (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)
  • Lucky’s, Andrew Pippos (Pan Macmillan Australia, Picador Australia)
  • Song of the Crocodile, Nardi Simpson (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Hachette Australia)
  • The Coconut Children, Vivian Pham (Penguin Random House, Vintage Australia)
  • The Morbids, Ewa Ramsey (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)

Thanks again to everyone who entered! And a big thank you to our sponsors and partners for the event:

Lead Partners: Media Super; Better Reading; JCDecaux; Borrow Box; and Ovato.

Major Partners: Booktopia; Books + Publishing; Copyright Agency; Simpsons Solicitors; The Age; The Sydney Morning Herald; and Nielsen Bookscan.

Supporting partners: Ingram; and John Fisher Printing.