Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Sweeping cancellations, Australia Reads launches and latest awards

The ABA announced this afternoon that it has postponed its annual conference, due to take place in Sydney in June, with the following day’s inaugural BookUp event also being postponed by the APA.

The news follows a wave of cancellations this week in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. SWF, the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne Jewish Book Week, the ABDA awards, the LEB conference, the PANZ International Conference, the ALIA national conference, the CBCA NSW Branch conference and the Clunes Booktown Festival all announced cancellations or delays, and State Library Victoria closed its doors alongside other libraries across the country as the federal government introduced tighter restrictions on public gatherings. And Australia Reads—the rebranded Australian Reading Hour campaign—is encouraging people who are quarantined or socially isolated to read at home. Below in this newsletter is a list of bookstores we’ve collated to share how Australian booksellers are responding to the crisis.

Nielsen Book Australia put a number on the chaos with a report showing year-to-date trade sales are down 2.9% in the year to 7 March. In more positive news, there were record book sales at this year’s Adelaide Writers’ Week.

After 18 years as publisher, Phillipa McGuinness is leaving UNSW Press. In rights news, Hardie Grant Egmont sold rights in five territories to Philip Bunting’s Your Planet Needs You, while Text sold multiple rights to Claire Christian’s debut adult novel.

In awards news, the shortlists were announced for the Penguin Literary Prize and the ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction prize, as were the recipients of the ASA Writers and Illustrators Mentorship, the SRB emerging critics fellowships, and the Boundless Indigenous Writer’s mentorship.

Overseas, Unity Books Auckland was named Bookstore of the Year in the LBF awards. Amazon has deprioritised book sales in the US and UK, the National Book Critic’s Circle Awards winners were announced, and a group of US children’s authors launched a digital festival following mass-cancellations of literary festivals.

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Category: This week’s news