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.