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Readings announces new book awards

Independent Melbourne bookseller Readings has announced that it will present two new literary awards to Australian authors this year.

The Readings New Australian Writing Award will be presented for an Australian work of fiction that is the author’s first or second published book. The award is worth $4000 and will be judged by Readings staff and guest judge Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites (Picador).

The Readings Children’s Book Prize is also worth $4000. It will be presented to an Australian author writing for children aged between five and 12 years, who has had no more than four children’s books published. Guest judge Sally Rippin, author of the ‘Billie B Brown’ series (HGE), will help Readings staff select the winner.

There is no submission process for the awards, with the judging panel for each prize to decide on the eligible books and then invite publishers to submit reading copies. The shortlist and winner of the Readings New Australian Writing Prize will be announced in October, with the winning book to be included in the November edition of the Readings Monthly and the Summer Reading Guide. The shortlist for the Readings Children’s Book Prize will be announced at the Children’s Literary Festival at the State Library of Victoria in March, with the winner to be published in the July edition of the Readings Monthly.

Readings marketing manager Emily Harms told Books+Publishing that the two awards will ‘fill a gap in the local awards circuit by identifying exceptional new talent and providing the necessary promotion and exposure of these Australian authors that will directly lead to increased sales of their books’.

Referring specifically to the children’s book prize, Harms said that the Readings children’s department has ‘observed over the years that we don’t see the excitement that we see over fiction awards at a consumer level when it comes to children’s awards’. ‘We also see some great books slip through the net because of a lack of consolidated effort, and this means that talented Australian writers—debuts and potentially on-the-rise—aren’t always making the impact they could,’ said Harms. ‘A prize that we curate will seek to change that.’

Readings managing director Mark Rubbo said in a blog post that Readings has committed to fund the awards for the next three years, but ‘hopefully it will continue indefinitely’. ‘It has always been a struggle for Australian writers to gain an audience and secure a living from their works … [and] anyone familiar with the vagaries of creative recognition knows that excellent works are often overlooked or have limited commercial appeal,’ said Rubbo.

‘I know that recently at Readings we have tended to concentrate on those books we feel have the greatest sales potential,’ said Rubbo. ‘It’s been a natural reaction to the vicissitudes of the book trade, through this was something that gnawed at me. I have been trying to figure out how we could give new and emerging Australian writers, particularly, better attention and support [and] I had the thought of a Readings award, judged by our experienced staff, which required us to seriously consider the new Australian books published each month and commend them to our readers.’

For more information about the Readings New Australian Writing Prize, click here. For more information about the Readings Children’s Book Prize, click here.



Category: Local news