Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Publishers roll out redundancies, reduced working hours; funding bodies restructure financial support; ABDA shortlists and more

This week Hardie Grant and Scribe became the first Australian publishers to announce redundancies in response to Covid-19. Other publishers, including Thames & Hudson Australia and Allen & Unwin, have announced reductions in working hours to help keep costs down. Overseas, Macmillan Publishers in the US and PRH, Hachette and Bonnier Books in the UK have begun laying-off and furloughing staff.

The good news is that, for now, the Australian trade publishing market has been experiencing Christmas-like sales growth as consumers purchase books for entertainment in isolation. Nielsen BookScan reports that Australia’s trade publishing market revenue for the week ending 28 March was up 15% on the same week last year, with the number of copies sold up 36% compared to the same time in 2019.

Funding bodies also responded to the pandemic this week. Announcing its four-year funding grants for 2021–24, the Australia Council said it would extend funding to 49 currently-funded organisations that were unsuccessful in the 2021–24 round for 12 months at a reduced level. The Copyright Agency, meanwhile, said it would use $375,000 from its Future Fund to support new initiatives in response to the Covid-19 crisis and will bring forward its Cultural Fund grants, forecast to be worth $1.8 million, to the first half of the 2020–21 financial year.

In awards news, Australian author Shokoofeh Azar has been shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize, Jay Kristoff has been longlisted for the UK’s Glass Bell Award and the Australian Book Designers Association has announced the shortlists for the Australian Book Design Awards.

Also this week, two well-known Australian industry figures—Martin Shaw and Annabel Barker—announced new literary agencies, while the NT Writers Festival was postponed and the Emerging Writers Festival announced this year’s festival will take place entirely online.


Category: This week’s news