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Magabala Books wins Small Publisher of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards for the second time

Fri, May 10, 2024



Australia’s leading First Nations publishing house, Magabala Books, has once again been honoured with the title of Small Publisher of the Year at the 2024 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA).

The award, accepted by Magabala Director Bebe Oliver in Naarm (Melbourne) on Thursday 9 May, recognises Magabala’s continued excellence in publishing and its significant contribution to the Australian literary landscape.

The judges’ comments signalled an industry-wide recognition of the excellence that Magabala achieves, even as one of the most remote publishers in the world: “The contributions that Magabala Books has made to the industry at large can be felt at every level of publishing. This is an incredible feat for any publisher - and it’s all the more impressive for a company that operates outside the main metropolitan publishing centres. Magabala has produced an exceptionally diverse list of titles in the last year, while maintaining their best-practice support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander emerging creators, and early-career staff.”

Expressing gratitude for the award, Magabala’s CEO Lilly Brown stated, “Magabala Books journeyed through significant transitions in 2023, guided by the remarkable leadership of previous CEO Anna Moulton and Acting CEO Kate Rendell.

“Our staff supported our creators to bring some beautiful and impactful books into the world against the backdrop of a failed referendum, the outcome of which continues to reverberate across our communities. We are still healing and trying to understand what that means for us. The win last night is part of that healing journey. For Magabala’s success to be recognised, celebrated and valued by the publishing industry speaks volumes.”

Magabala Publisher Rachel Bin Salleh highlighted the enduring relevance of Magabala’s mission, stating, “Our Old people showed courage, vision and determination to establish Magabala Books. Our commitment to centring Indigenous voices, soul care and storytelling in all its forms, remains unwavering. Magabala is part of a continuum of storied poets, leaders, philosophers and cultural guardians. In this life, we only take what we leave behind in others, and we have been gifted the ‘legacy’ of stories. These traditions are everything about who we are. Congratulations to our creators, and to all who have been at the centre of a quiet revolution.”

Magabala Director Bebe Oliver acceted the award on Magabala’s behalf: “There were so many important and deserving people nominated in each of the categories but when it was announced that Magabala Books won Small Publisher of the Year, the room erupted with whistles, cheers and applause, which was such a loud testament to the love our community and industry has for Magabala. The handshakes and congratulations lasted the rest of the night and it made the pride and appreciation I have for our passionate team so much deeper. We won because of them and their unwavering commitment to Indigenous stories, truths and talents.”

Magabala Books first won ABIA Small Publisher of the Year in 2020, followed by the 2023 Oceania winner of the Bologna Prize (BOP) for the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year. It is a testament to First Nations excellence that in 2024 alone, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and Huia Publishers, based in Aotearoa New Zealand, was the 2024 Oceania winner of the Bologna Prize (BOP) for the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year.