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Magabala celebrates 30th anniversary

Broome-based publisher Magabala Books is celebrating its 30th birthday this year.

Magabala CEO Anna Moulton told Books+Publishing the anniversary is an opportunity to ‘celebrate the foresight of the Kimberley Aboriginal elders who decided to establish Magabala Books’.

‘In the beginning Magabala Books operated out of a tin shed, well before the internet existed,’ said Moulton. ‘It’s with awe that we look back on the many kilometres travelled by staff on rough bush tracks in the 80s and 90s. Soon manuscripts started flowing in from all over the country, reflecting the drive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to share their stories with the world.’

Moulton said that while the publisher’s remoteness is still a challenge, its ‘connection to country and community … is our greatest asset’, adding that it ‘still shapes how Magabala operates’.

Moulton said the publisher has supported ‘more than 200 storytellers, authors and illustrators from all over Australia, published more than 250 titles, sold book rights into more than six countries and built an impressive resume of award-winning titles’. ‘Most recently, we were pleased and proud to be shortlisted alongside the likes of NewSouth and Scribe for Small Publisher of the Year at the ABIAs,’ said Moulton.

While the publishing team is proud of all of its titles, Moulton said they have particularly enjoyed the ‘critical reception and success’ of publications such as Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight, Alison Whittaker’s Lemons in the Chicken Wire, ‘and of course, Dark Emu, which is changing the conversation about Australian history’.

‘Our children’s titles underpin what we do and we make a huge investment in the creative and professional development of our authors and illustrators, many of whom are emerging,’ said Moulton, adding that the publisher ‘maintains a commitment to one-time storytellers’, and has kept classic titles in print. ‘It is essential that Magabala continues to balance cultural and economic imperatives,’ said Moulton.

‘As for most independent presses, remaining financially sustainable is always a challenge and we could not have survived without the support of the Australia Council and Department of Culture and the Arts WA,’ said Moulton. ‘However, it’s perhaps not widely known in the industry that the majority of Magabala’s income is self-generated. Magabala Books is a quiet success story: how we have survived and thrived in this competitive and uncertain industry for thirty years is a testament to the quality of our books, the dedication of Magabala’s board and staff, and the unstinting and generous support of funding bodies, the industry and our loyal customers.’

Forthcoming titles from Magabala include two new works by Bruce Pascoe; two new poetry collections by John Kinsella and Charmaine Papertalk-Green, and Alison Whittaker; and YA and adult fiction debuts and children’s titles.

‘We are excited to see the shifts that have occurred in the industry, with increasing interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and illustrators,’ said Moulton. ‘We expect this interest to grow.’


Category: Local news