M.L. Stedman and her book The Light between Oceans was the big winner at this year’s Australian Book Industry Awards, taking away three awards for Literary Fiction Book of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and the Book of the Year.
The book industry’s night of nights celebrated the best Australian books and recognised the industry’s finest authors, booksellers and publishers from the past year.
The 2013 Australian Book Industry Awards were presented by the Australian Publishers Association, together with the Australian Booksellers Association. In his opening remarks, Jon Page, president of the Australian Booksellers’ Association, said that “while the landscape is changing for booksellers, bookshops are still where the overwhelming majority of books are sold”.
Louise Adler, president of the Australian Publishers’ Association, added that the book industry must focus on the importance of copyright and getting across the idea that content cannot be free.
The evening’s keynote speaker, the Attorney-General of Australia, Mark Dreyfus, said that books contribute to society in a way that is as unique as it is important. Tongue in cheek, he quoted from George R. Martin, the author of A Game of Thrones: “The man who reads dies a thousand times. The man who never reads lives only once.”
Writer Maurice Saxby was the first award winner of the evening, taking out the Pixie O’Harris Award for distinguished and dedicated service to the development and reputation of children’s books. He said his interest in children’s books began when his mother read to him and continued in infants school with a teacher who would do the same. “From then on I read, and read, and read,” he said.
The award for Illustrated Book of the Year, presented by Reg Mombassa, was jointly won by Ross Coulthart for The Lost Diggers and the late Paul Lockyer for Lake Eyre: A Journey through the Heart of the Continent.
Shortlisted titles for the children’s fiction categories raised passionate responses from the crowd, with Nick Bland winning Book of the Year for Younger Children with his The Very Hungry Bear. Bland joked that he did “not have a particular interest in bears” but that the story was a political allegory originally published as a Quarterly Essay.
The Book of the Year for Older Children went to Andy Griffiths for 26 Storey Treehouse. Griffiths thanked his publisher for allowing him to “continue to delve into nonsense.”
The Biography of the Year went to the late Jim Steynes and Warwick Green for Jim Stynes: My Journey and General Non-fiction Book of the Year to pilot Richard de Crespigny’s QF32: The Captain’s Extraordinary Account How One of the World’s Worst Air Disasters Was Averted. Kate Morton was the winner of General Fiction Book of the Year for The Secret Keeper.
Following a break for entertainment from three ‘undercover’ tenors who popped up from the audience, proceedings moved on to publisher and bookseller awards leading up to the ultimate award, book of the year.
Bob Sessions from Penguin was the recipient of the Lloyd O’Neil Award for outstanding service to the Australian book industry. Publishers’ and booksellers’ promotional campaigns were also acknowledged, with awards for the Allen & Unwin campaign behind Kate Morton’s book The Secret Keeper and Shearers Bookshop’s Diary of a Reading Kid initiative.
Lorne Beach Books in Victoria was awarded Regional Bookseller of the Year. Boffins Bookshop in Western Australia took out the honour of Specialist Bookseller of the Year, while Shearers Bookshop in Leichhardt received the award for Independent Bookseller of the Year. Chain or Franchise Bookseller of the Year Award went to Dymocks Melbourne.
Turning to publishers, the Small Publisher of the Year award went to Text Publishing Company, with publisher Michael Heyward saying that at nearly 20 years old Text Publishing has survived only because of extraordinary people. “While we do have small publishers, we don’t have small authors,” he said.
The overall Publisher of the Year award went to Allen & Unwin.
The evening’s proceedings built up to their finale with the Nielsen BookScan International Book of the Year and not too many surprises when this was won by the publishing phenomenon that was Three Shades of Grey.
Other awards during the evening were the Publishing Technology Book Innovation Award publishing technology book innovation award that went to Bolinda Publishing for Borrowbox Digital Library Solution, for the audio book segment, and Distributor of the Year, awarded to United Book Distributors.