Where can you buy ebooks in Australia? A round-up of ebookselling developments in 2013


A number of new ebookstores opened in Australia during 2013, while others closed. Andrea Hanke rounds-up some of the recent developments in the local ebook market.

While the news was announced partway through 2012, the withdrawal of Google as a local book retailing partner in January 2013 was one of the first major upsets of the year, affecting local partners Dymocks, Booktopia, the Co-op and QBD, although QBD was not yet selling ebooks at the time of Google’s withdrawal.

This followed in March with the news that ebook distributor OverDrive would discontinue ebook sales from its Booki.sh platform in June. Booki.sh, a home-grown ebook platform provider that was purchased by OverDrive in 2012, helped a number of indie booksellers launch their ebookstores, including Avid Reader, Gleebooks, Fullers, Imprints, Mary Ryan’s and Books for Cooks. These ebookstores subsequently closed. ‘Ebooks, in my opinion, have been a major headache for any but the biggest Australian retailers, all along,’ said Gleebooks co-owner David Gaunt at the time.

In March, Australian ebookstore Booku, along with online print bookstore Boomerang Books, was put up for sale. Booku eventually closed in August, while Boomerang continues to trade through its partnership with Pages & Pages Booksellers.

In April, a new ebook retailer emerged on the scene. JB HiFi launched its own ebookstore offering ebooks in PDF and EPUB formats for all devices that support Adobe digital rights management, as well as dedicated ereading apps for Apple and Android devices. The retailer was already selling a range of ereaders, including Sony and Kobo devices.

Slipping under the radar somewhat, German ereading company txtr also launched Australian and New Zealand ebookstores in the first half of the year, offering local ebook titles alongside international ones.

Pages & Pages Booksellers made headlines in April when it announced that it would introduce a ‘Kindle amnesty’, asking customers to trade in their Amazon Kindles for BeBook ereaders and raising awareness about the limitations of the Kindle. While only a few customers took the bookseller up on its offer, Pages & Pages general manager Jon Page said that the promotion led to ‘countless conversations with customers who have been considering buying a Kindle and have changed their mind’.

In May, Sony opened its Reader Store in Australia, offering a range of local and international ebooks. While the store is aimed at users of Sony Reader devices, the ebooks can be used on any devices that support the EPUB format.

Also in May, QBD become the first Australian retailer to launch an ebookstore powered by ebook provider Copia, and was soon followed by a number of other booksellers around the country, including: Farrell’s, Mary Martin, Dillons Norwood, UNSW Bookshop, The Turning Page, Better Books and Paperbark Merchants. Several other booksellers opened Copia-powered online stores in the second half of 2013.

Also announced in June was the long-awaited launch of TitlePage Plus by the Australian Publishers Association and Thorpe-Bowker, which gave Australian retailers local availability and other information on print and digital books.

Big W became the first discount department store in Australia to enter the ebook market, launching its ebookstore, powered by OverDrive, in September. The store offers ebooks in EPUB and PDF formats, which can be read on all devices that support Adobe digital rights management. Big W was already selling a range of ereaders and tablets, including Kobo, Kindle and Samsung products.

In October, Kobo announced a partnership with the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA), similar to partnerships signed with independent booksellers in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, and the US. ABA member booksellers who sign up will be able to sell Kobo devices in their stores, and will also get a percentage of the sales of ebooks purchased by their customers from the Kobo store. ‘It has been a mystery to me why it has taken this long to find a straightforward, cost-effective solution to allow bookshops the opportunity to provide ebooks and ereaders in their suite of services. Kobo has provided a simple, elegant, comprehensive and inexpensive entry point,’ said ABA CEO Joel Becker at the time.

The only ABA member store to start selling Kobo ebooks and ereaders before Christmas was Pages & Pages, which previously sold ebooks through the ebook supplier ReadCloud, although the ABA has confirmed that another seven booksellers have signed-up. In Australia, Kobo also supplies ebooks and ereaders to Collins Booksellers and online retailer Bookworld.

The year ended with a flurry of new ebookstore announcements. In November, the rumours that Amazon was launching a Kindle store in Australia were finally confirmed. The Kindle store went live on 13 November at www.amazon.com.au, a domain name that the retailer has owned since 2004 and which previously directed Australian consumers to the amazon.co.uk site. The local site does not, however, sell print books.

Around the same time, Optus also launched its own ebookstore, powered by OverDrive, with ebooks available in EPUB and PDF formats and able to be read on devices that support Adobe digital rights management. Existing Optus customers can pay for their purchases from their pre-paid mobile account or monthly mobile bill, while new customers can purchase ebooks and audiobooks using Paypal.

Finally, US bookseller Barnes & Noble launched an Australian Nook ebookstore in November, which is accessible via an app for PCs and devices with Windows 8.1.

Picador relaunches its ‘greatest novels’

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Pan Macmillan imprint Picador is re-issuing 12 of its ‘greatest novels’ in March.

This one-off list, which is being spearheaded by Picador UK, draws on prize-winning and bestselling authors from 40 years of publishing, including Bret Easton Ellis, Cormac McCarthy, Alice Sebold, Helen Fielding, Graham Swift, Alan Hollinghurst and Australia’s Tim Winton.

‘It’s an incredible list,’ says Picador Australia publisher Alex Craig. ‘Man Booker Prize winners (Last Orders, The Sea, The Line of Beauty), cultural game changers (American Psycho, Bridget Jones’s Diary), classics (All the Pretty Horses) and bestsellers (The Lovely Bones, Room).’

In Australia, the list includes three local titles—Tim Winton’s Dirt Music (which is part of the UK-selected top 12), Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance and Carrie Tiffany’s Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living. These hand-picked titles have been chosen to reflect ‘the spirit of the anniversary—representing the past, the present and the future of the imprint’, says Craig. ‘All three novels engage with Australian themes and concerns deeply rooted in our landscape, history and psyche. All are stunning novelists at the forefront of Australian literature.’

As with any new series, the design is crucial. Picador has chosen black-and-white jackets as a nod to the ‘distinctive white spines and black type’ of Picador’s early paperbacks. Each title includes extra content such as reading-group notes, interviews and articles from the authors (all published around the time the novels were released), and is priced between $19.99 and $22.99.

For more information on the series go here.

Alex Adsett on the third draft of the D Publishing contract

Alex Adsett writes:

After facing prolonged criticism over the first two drafts of its publishing contract, D Publishing have released a new version of their publishing agreement in time for the new year. While the latest version includes genuine improvement, providing additional explanations and addressing some of the concerns raised, it still has not remedied two of the biggest failings of the first.

Essentially, D Publishing still have the right to change the fee structure and (almost all of) the terms of the contract at any time, and the Author still has no recourse to terminate the contract.


To first look at the positives, D Publishing have amended the contract to properly reflect what they said were their intentions in the first place, and so the Author clearly now has the right to distribute their Work in channels not being exploited by D Publishing.

The Author has the option to nominate whether they want to (a) use D Publishing to publish in Core Distribution Channels only (ie. Dymocks stores, Dymocks online and Google ebooks), or (b) allow D Publishing to control Secondary Distribution Channels and subsidiary rights as well.

At present D Publishing have not nominated any Secondary Distribution Channels that they intend to exploit, but I understand this is intended to cover other e-retailers such as Amazon, or agreements with other Australian bookshops.  When they do commence selling in these areas, Authors that have chosen this aspect of the service may benefit from the superior clout of D Publishing, but are also restricted from exploiting this area themselves.  Although still subject to change completely at D Publishing’s discretion, the Rate Card currently sets out that D Publishing will retain 20% commission from exploitation of Secondary Distribution Channels.

D Publishing have also limited the Subsidiary rights they may hold to non-exclusive i) anthology & quotation, ii) extracts, and iii) condensations, with the license and fee split subject to the Author’s consent.  This is a big improvement from the previous position where D Publishing could claim exclusivity over all subsidiary rights and unilaterally decide their percentage of income.

In an important allowance, D Publishing must obtain the Author’s consent before adding any new channel to the Core or Nominated Secondary channels.


Unfortunately, despite the improvements with clarity and transparency, the D Publishing contract still does not allow the Author to reasonably terminate the contract. In a small concession, the term of the contract is now ten years, with automatic ten year renewals if the Author fails to nominate otherwise.  Although D Publishing have the right to terminate the contract upon 30 days notice at their convenience, this right has not been extended to the Author.   Continue reading

Round-up of stories on REDgroup entering voluntary administration



For the most detailed reports on the REDgroup administration process over the past few months see the Bookseller+Publisher website.



As reported by the Weekly Book Newsletter yesterday, REDgroup Retail, owner of Borders, Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls stores in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, has been placed in voluntary administration. Here is a round-up of recent media coverage:

General news

Borders, Angus & Robertson go bust’ by Eli Greenblat, The Age, WA Today, SMH and Brisbane Times, 17 February 2011

Borders, Angus & Robertson parent Redgroup Retail in voluntary administration’, by Blair Speedy, The Australian, 17 February 2011

Angus & Robertson enters administration’, ABC News, 17 February 2011

Borders, A&R stores in administration’ by Antonia Magee, Herald Sun and News.com.au, 17 February 2011

Borders and Whitcoulls put under administration’, by TVNZ, 17 February 2011

Borders bankruptcy spreads to US and Australia’, by The Guardian, UK, 17 February 2011

Dark chapter for booksellers’, by Blair Speedy and Stephen Romei, The Australian, 18 February 2011

Internet spells the death of bookstores’, by Peter Lloyd, ABC News, 18 February 2011

Owners move to salvage Borders, Angus & Robertson’, by Eli Greenblat, Jason Steger & Chris Zappone, The Age, 18 February 2011

Online shoppers write unhappy ending for Borders, Angus & Robertson’, by Eli Greenblat, Jason Steger & Chris Zappone, SMH, 18 February 2011

Borders and Angus &Robertson in hands of administrators’, by Tim Dornin, The Advertiser, Adelaide, 18 February 2011

Online closes the books’, by Antonia Magee, Tony Grant-Taylor & Lizzie Stafford, The Courier-Mail, 18 February 2011

Whitcoulls workers’ future uncertain’, by Tamsyn Parker, NZ Herald, 18 February 2011

Whitcoulls stores face closure’, by Tamsyn Parker, NZ Herald, 18  February 2011

Poor success rate for voluntary administration, says insolvency specialist’, by Tamsyn Parker,  NZ Herald, 18 February 2011

Borders, Whitcoulls under administration’, Stuff.co.nz, 18 February 2011

Technology blamed for Whitcoulls’ troubles’, by TVNZ, 18 February 2011

Troubled Whitcoulls issues voucher rules’, by TVNZ, 18 February 2011

Double trouble for holders of Borders’ gift vouchers’, by Chris Zappone, SMH, 18 February 2011


Internet blamed as booksellers enter administration’, by Peter Lloyd, Lateline, ABC, 17 February 2011

Nine Whitcoulls jobs threatened’, by Laurel Stowell, Wanganui Chronicle, 18 February 2011

Conroy links online retail to job losses’, ABC News, 18 February 2011

Borders, Angus & Robertson out of step, out of time: independents’, by Jason Steger, The Age, 18 February 2011

Book voucher auctions pulled’, by William Mace, Stuff.co.nz, 18 February 2011

Local shelf life looks good’, by Brian Ward, The Mercury, Tasmania, 18 February 2011

Book stores struggle as online sales rise’, by Greg Hoy, The 7:30 Report, ABC, 18 February 2011

Whitcoulls’ fate rests on two meetings’, by Tamsyn Parker, NZ Herald, 19 February 2011

Cuts loom as publishers rip into management’, by Tom Dusevic & Stephen Romei, The Australian, 19 February 2011

Shorten closes book on imports’, by Sid Maher & Blair Speedy, The Australian, 19 February 2011

Borders demise not just down to net, say booksellers’, by Jason Steger & Paris Cowan, SMH, 19 February 2011

Book gifts that keep on taking’, by Holly Ife, Herald Sun, 19 February 2011

Bookstores beef up security in face of fury’, by Isaac Davison, NZ Herald, 19 February 2011

Union to meet administrator over bookshop chains’, by NZPA, Stuff.co.nz, 19 February 2011

Site rationalisation’ may be on cards for REDgroup’, by Claire Rogers, The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, 19 February 2011

Little stores find safety in niches’, by John Mangan, The Age, 20 February 2011

Book business is its own worst enemy’, by Darren Osborne, Technology and Games, ABC Online, 21 February 2011

Malls to get in on the online shopping act’, by Bridget Carter, The Australian, 21 February 2011

TALKING POINT Books policy too contradictory to be true’, by The Australian, 21 February 2011

Staff sure Borders is not closing down here’, by Jing Yng, TODAYonline, Singapore, 21 February 2011

Administrator to honour cancelled vouchers’, by Chris Zappone, SMH‎, 21 February 2011

Whitcoulls staff advised to stay put’, by NZPA, NZ Herald, 21 February 2011

Struggling book industry only has itself to blame’, by Darren Osborne, The Drum, ABC, 21 February 2011

$830 hr to save bookshops’, by Isaac Davison, NZ Herald, 22 February 2011

Business as usual at Borders Singapore’, by AsiaOne, 22 February 2011

REDgroup executives resigned after loss’, by Tamsyn Parker & John Drinnan, NZ Herald, 22 February 2011

New chapter for book store’, by Sally Foy, Batemans Bay Post, 23 February 2011

Business as usual for local book store’, by Great Lakes Advocate, 23 February 2011

A&R voucher fight gets aggressive’, by Mark Bode, Sunshine Coast Daily, 23 February 2011

Angus & Robertson still trading’, by Jaime Newborn, Daily Mercury, 23 February 2011

Continue reading

Gender balance in publishing and reviewing: how does Australia stack up?

This breakdown by VIDA Women in Literary Arts of how many women writers are reviewed in US publications versus how many men are reviewed has prompted some self-analysis by those who undertake reviews both in Australia and overseas.

In light of this we thought we’d take a look at our own reviews and see how women authors fared. The results—reviews of books by women ever so slightly outweighed reviews of books by men—is perhaps not all that surprising. Bookseller+Publisher attempts to review as many new Australian books as possible each month—that is, as many as we can find willing reviewers for in our fairly short window of opportunity. A quick eye-balling of our adult reviews for 2010 indicates that of these reviews just under half (48%) are of books by men, while 52% are of books by women. When children’s books are added to the mix the percentage by women is even higher (57%), compared to 42% by men. (We should note, too, that although we do review some genre titles we by no means capture the output of romance or spec-fiction genres—we’re mostly dealing with mainstream trade publications in both fiction and nonfiction.)

We may well have our own biases here in the office and each of our reviewers who say yes or no to a title may be operating from their own also, but given that our purpose is to cast a wide net, the percentages quoted above would seem to suggest that the gender split in terms of what actually gets published in Australia is fairly even, possibly even skewed towards women.

Hopefully this can provide something of a basis against which to compare the gender split in the reviews sections of Australia’s mainstream literary publications—the argument that there are more reviews of books by men because there are more books by men out there would seem, by our reckoning, to be a hollow one.

Top picks from our first mag of 2011

Bookseller+Publisher HQ is filled with the scent of fresh magazine once again, with the first issue of 2011 back from the printers and in the hands of subscribers around our fair land and beyond.

The March issue features books due for publication in March, April and May. Here are some of the books that found favour with our reviewers this time around:

The Sparrows of Edward Street (Elizabeth Stead, UQP, March)
‘Elizabeth Stead takes readers into the grinding world of a NSW housing commission camp for the homeless in the mid-20th century,’ writes reviewer Chris Harrington of Books in Print in Melbourne. The story follows the Sparrow family, fallen on hard times, and the efforts of the eldest daughter Aria, a ‘”bottom-of-the-ladder’ photographic model’, to pull them through. ‘The Sparrows of Edward Street is a wonderful novel about family relationships, about overcoming hardship and the strengths that people can gain by pulling together to beat the odds,’ Harrington writes.

The Book of Rachael (Leslie Cannold, Text, April)
The Book of Rachael tells the story of Jesus’ younger sister, who is ‘ambitious, passionate and unconstrained by her upbringing’, and who ‘falls in love with Judah of Iscariot, Joseph’s best friend and the man who will change their lives forever’. ‘Public commentator and nonfiction author Leslie Cannold had chosen an ambitious topic for her first foray into the world of fiction,’ writes reviewer Eloise Keating. She ‘extends this story in an expert manner, showing the reader the reality of the women in Jesus’ life through engaging and fast-paced prose’.

Little People (Jane Sullivan, Scribe, April)
This ‘quirky novel’ by literary journalist Jane Sullivan is ‘inspired by the real-life tour of a troupe of “little people” to Australia in1870,’ writes reviewer Paul Landymore. When Mary Ann rescues’charismatic entertainer’ General Tom Thumb from drowning in the Yarrariver, she is invited to join his troupe of travelling entertainersincluding ‘the beautiful and perfectly formed Lavinia; her restless and wilful sister Minnie; and rival for lead Commodore George WashingtonNutt’, who ‘inhabit a world of barely restrained, savage curiosity’.’This is a most enjoyable read,’ writes Landymore.

Ashes in the Air (Ali Alizadeh, UQP, March)
‘What do we want from a book of poetry?’ asks reviewer Angela Meyer. ‘We want each poem to paint a picture, to shake us up a little, and to ultimately reach down inside us and peel something back. Ali Alizadeh’s poems doall of these things.’ She continues: ‘Alizadeh explores his own internal conflict of straddling two worlds and never completely feeling hebelongs—in Iran or Australia, or in the places he has visited.’The collection is ‘personal (deeply so) but political, social,philosophical and definitely meaningful’ and ‘makes a perfect companionto Alizadeh’s wonderful biography/history Iran: My Grandfather (Transit Lounge).’

Mezza Italiana (Zoe Boccabella, ABC Books, April)
Brisbane-born Anglo-Italian Zoe Boccabella grew up in ‘Joh’s’ Queensland in the 1970s and 1980s’ where ‘Italian food and culture were openly derided’, soit wasn’t until Boccabella was in her 20s and travelling around Europethat she made an effort to connect with her Italian heritage, visitingher family’s home village of Fossa in the Abruzzo region. ‘What followsare wonderful descriptions of relatives and other villagers, thecountryside and the food—the Abruzzo produces more superb cooks than any other part of Italy,’ writes reviewer Chris Harrington. ‘This is abeautifully written memoir full of characters and places, which willappeal to the literary traveller, to people who already love Italy and to all those intending to visit.’

The March issue has our first Junior supplement for the year too.

If you want to know more about forthcoming titles, sign up for our fortnightly Bookseller+Publisher Newsletter here.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Dog Boy’ (Eva Hornung, Text Publishing)

The winners of the 2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced this morningFormer Bookseller+Publisher staffer Angela Meyer reviewed the winner of the fiction category, Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy, for us back in February 2009. Here’s what she had to say:

Ramotchka’s uncle fails to return one night, and the five-year-old is left alone in an abandoned building. He eventually decides to venture out to look for his uncle and mother, who disappeared some time before. Hungry and lost, he follows three dogs, associating them with warmth and food. Ramotchka not only takes shelter with the dog clan, but soon establishes a role in their family. Dog Boy is an empathetic book, immersing you in the life of a Russian street-kid—through freezing winters, fear of other people, and his unique relationships with his animal companions. The book is gritty and detailed. As Ramotchka learns to detect things by sound and smell, and recognizes both his human advantages and the disadvantages involved in not being canine, the reader learns too. There is no glossing over the vivid smells and tastes of the dog world, our own animality, and the rough life of the many children who are homeless or abandoned in Russia. It is ultimately moving, frightening, and heartbreaking. The story also has a true universality. Hornung (previously Sallis)—a strong supporter of humanitarian issues, and the author of The Marsh Birds, five other novels, and some wonderful short fiction—is proving herself an important figure in Australian literature.

Angela Meyer is a writer, blogger, and former acting editor of Bookseller+Publisher magazine. This review first appeared in the March 2009 issue of Bookseller+Publisher.

Sony forum: the trade talks ebooks

Charlotte Harper rounds up the discussion at Sony’s ebook forum in Sydney:

Digital titles could make up between 20 and 30% of the trade book market within two to five years, according to attendees at a round table event on the future of reading hosted by Sony in September.

Sony Australia arranged the forum in Sydney to discuss the impact devices such as the company’s just-launched Readers will have on reading, writing, literacy and publishing. Panellists included Paul Colley, technology communications manager, Sony Australia; HarperCollins COO Jim Demetriou; REDgroup Retail managing director—ecommerce and digital, Singapore, James Webber; Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) CEO Joel Becker; Get Reading program director Cheryl Akle; and Alex Pollack, media analyst, Macquarie Group.

Their predictions, on the rise of the ebook varied—Akle said she could envisage an 80-20 mix in three years, Becker posited a 75-25 by 2015, while Demetriou guessed at 70-30 in five years, adding that he believed overall volume would increase as digital devices enticed particularly male readers into the market.

‘I’m really positive that more people will come to books,’ said Demetriou, adding that he expected there would be a lot of experimentation in terms of pricing, devices and enhanced ebooks before the market settled down.

The tipping point

The industry was already on its way to a tipping point in terms of ebook take-up, or would reach one within a couple of years as everyone from major players like Apple and Google to small independent booksellers began to sell ebooks.

Demetriou said the tipping point would come when ebook sales reached 10% or more of book sales, and that US ebook sales were still at around 7% but may reach 10% this Christmas. In terms of device availability and retail set-up the US was about 18 months in front of Australia, while the UK was around 12 months ahead.

‘We take our cues from the US and the UK, so I think the tipping point is still a ways off, but we’re definitely seeing signs of movement in the marketplace,’ he said. ‘Our sales are growing rapidly, but from a very small base.’

Webber pointed out that the figures were likely to change dramatically again in a few years, once a generation that has grown up with smartphones, tablets and e-readers—and never reading physical books—comes of age.

He said REDgroup stores (Borders, Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls) and their websites sold out of the original Kobo devices within three days of launch, and that four months on, ebook sales are two to three times what they’d expected. He said the company saw adding ebooks to their business as necessary. ‘People were thirsty for this change. There is no doubt that people here are wanting to get into this market.’ Continue reading

Indigenous Literacy Day: Not just about the books

Indigenous Literacy Project development facilitator Debra Dank

Today, thousands of school children, together with hundreds of bookshops and publishers, libraries and organisations around Australia will celebrate the fourth Indigenous Literacy Day.

To date, the annual event has raised more than $800,000 since its first national fundraising day in 2006, and the involvement of remote Indigenous communities has grown—from the three communities originally involved in 2004 to 160 this year.

As awareness of and involvement in the annual event grows, the ways in which the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP) is supporting literacy development in remote Indigenous communities is also expanding and adapting.

‘ILP is developing an ear for hearing the needs of communities where it works,’ says Indigenous Literacy Project development facilitator Debra Dank, based in Darwin. ‘The Buzz Books program and the Community Identified Projects are responding to those heard needs.’

‘In [Book] Buzz, ILP provides sets of twelve books as resources but then works to build community ownership,’ she says. In the case of Warburton, a remote community in Western Australia, Dank and colleague Maddy Bower worked with elders in the community to include local translations, stickered into the books.

‘The real sense of involvement and participation which community people can feel is significant to the overall rollout of the project and creates a unique and distinct Buzz face at each project site,’ says Dank.

Community identified projects

Other Community Identified Projects (CIPs) include support for the Junjuwa Women’s Centre in Fitzroy Crossing, the GurrindinDalmi Community in Katherine; a Maningrida book project with award-winning author Leonie Norrington, support for the Central Australian Honey Ant Readers and the Barkly Tablelands Ringers Project.

‘Several of this year’s CIP’s do not have an obvious literacy look but they are creating an environment where SAE literacy and language acquisition can grow,’ explains Dank. ‘Contexts which articulate purpose and need for SAE literacy acquisition.’

‘These projects are important in that they are what the communities have identified as being important and a priority for them,’ says Dank. ‘It is always important when working in a community development capacity that there is an ability to listen and that the local perspectives of needs are respected. Locally based community people are always best placed to articulate their needs.’

For Dank, this willingness on the part of the ILP to listen to local needs is one of the most important aspects of the project—as is the willingness to steadily (and sometimes slowly) build and strengthen relationships with the communities involved, rather than making the mistakes of many ‘fly-in, fly-out’ outsiders. ‘Many communities are bombarded with fly in fly out visitors,’ she says. ‘The need to develop and sustain a long-term rapport/relationship with the community is key to the success of any project. It gives community members an opportunity to form an understanding of the type of person and thus the type of service they are likely to receive and if this is something which will benefit the community.’

The project’s role in cultural exchange

Another area where Dank see’s ‘huge possibilities’ for the ILP is in its role in facilitating cultural exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. A small step in this direction is the role of books written by Indigenous students in workshops with popular children’s author Andy Griffiths and then shared more widely—books featuring stories of life that can be quite different from those familiar to non-Indigenous Australians.

The narrative skills in these books should not come as a surprise; nor should the proficiency of Indigenous students in other forms of ‘literacy’. ‘The cross over between black and white culture and community, which Indigenous Australians are continuously expected to [adjust to] means that adaptation is a very real skill for Indigenous Australians,’ says Dank. ‘Our kids may have some trouble reading books but they are experts at reading their environment, they may not speak SAE [Standard Australian English] but they articulate their needs brilliantly within our own languages.’

Dank acknowledges that the ILP has a role to play in ensuring these skills are recognized in the wider community. ‘Let’s build acknowledgement and respect for Indigenous kids as capable learners,’ she says. ‘Let’s build that through a new dialogue which recognises differences as differences and not as deficiencies.’

[On Indigenous Literacy Day 2009 I spoke to Dank about Indigenous languages and how these interact with students’ acquisition of Standard Australian English literacy, for an article that appeared in Crikey and can be found online here. Dank will appear at an event with author David Malouf at the New South Wales National Library tonight, details online here.]

New Zealand’s best lookin’ books: PANZ Book Design Awards

The winners of this year’s Publishers Association of New Zealand Book Design Awards were announced in Auckland on 22 July:

Gerard Reid Award for Best Book, sponsored by Nielsen Book Services

Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book

Cameron Gibb for The Life & Love of Trees (Lewis Blackwell, PQ Blackwell/Hachette New Zealand)

HarperCollins Award for Best Cover

Sarah Laing for Magpie Hall (Rachael King, Random House New Zealand)

Pindar Award for Best Typography

Grant Sutherland, Mission Hall (interior), Robyn Sivewright, Afineline (typesetting), Neil Pardington (cover) for Art at Te Papa (ed by William McAloon, Te Papa Press)

Hachette New Zealand Award for Best Non-illustrated Book

Keely O’Shannessy (cover), Katrina Duncan (interior) for Mirabile Dictu (Michele Leggott, Auckland University Press)

Pearson Award for Best Educational Book

Book Design Ltd for Year 9 Graphics (Paul Bourdōt, Cengage Learning)

Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children’s Book

Michael Greenfield for Old HuHu (Kyle Mewburn, illus by Rachel Driscoll, Scholastic New Zealand).

Awa Press Young Designer of the Year

Keely O’Shannessy for Ned and Katina (Patricia Grace, Penguin NZ), Zone of the Marvellous (Martin Edmond, Auckland University Press), As the Earth Turns Silver (Alison Wong, Penguin NZ), Walking to Africa (Jessica Le Bas, Auckland University Press), Mirabile Dictu (Michele Leggott, Auckland University Press)