Bluey earns top honour at this year’s ABIAs

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Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could stop the book industry’s night of nights, as the 2020 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) were announced via live-stream on Wednesday 13 May.

The virtual event was supported by a who’s who of presenters, including APA President Lee Walker, prolific author and proud Wiradjuri woman Anita Heiss, and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, among others. There was also a special live performance from musician Clare Bowditch.

The ABIAs were originally to be held in Sydney in April, but were forced to move online following the COVID-19 outbreak. In a preface to the awards programme, APA CEO Michael Gordon Smith said: “It has been – it still is – a very challenging year. So it’s a very special pleasure that we’re still able to celebrate the achievements of Australian authors and Australian publishers in bringing great books to life.

“To everyone that has helped present the awards in their first virtual event format – to the Organising Committee, to our sponsors and industry partners: our eternal thanks. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

For the first time, the coveted Book of the Year award went to a children’s picture book – Bluey: The Beach (Ludo Studio, BBC Studios and Penguin Random House Australia), which also took home Children’s Picture Book of the Year.

The Copyright Agency proudly sponsored the General Non-Fiction Book of the Year, which was awarded to Kitty Flanagan’s self-titled 488 Rules for Life (Allen & Unwin). Meanwhile, newly-announced Miles Franklin longlistee Charlotte Wood took home Literary Fiction Book of the Year for The Weekend (Allen & Unwin).

After picking up General Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2019, Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountains returned to win Audiobook of the Year (narrated by Benjamin Law, Omid Tofighian, Isobelle Carmody, Janet Galbraith, Mathilda Imlah, Geoffrey Robertson, Richard Flanagan, Sarah Dale, Thomas Keneally and Yumi Stynes, and published by Pan Macmillan Australia and Macmillan Australia Audio). Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton also made a comeback to claim Book of the Year for Younger Children, this time with The 117-Storey Treehouse (Pan Macmillan Australia).

Honours were also bestowed upon booksellers and publishers, with Readings, Books Kinokuniya, Magabala Books and Allen & Unwin being named Book Retailer, Bookshop, Small Publisher and Publisher of the Year respectively.

Finally, the Pixie O’Harris Award for exceptional service to children’s literature went to Erica Wagner; the Lloyd O’Neil Award for outstanding service to the book industry went to Helen Garner; and the 2020 Rising Star Award for emerging talent went to Hazel Lam.

See the full list of winners on the ABIA website, or rewatch the virtual awards event on YouTube.

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