Australian Book Industry Awards 2012, 18th May 2012, Sydney

Australia has traditionally been an innovator.

We only have to look at the last 100 years and we see that there are those expected stereotypical inventions – a surf lifesaving reel first used at Bondi Beach in 1906, Speedo swimwear in 1928 and improved sheep shears in 1909 closely followed by the Anthrax vaccine in 1918.

But without careful research, who would have known that Australia brought us the world’s first feature length film (The Story of the Kelly Gang) in 1906, the heart pacemaker in 1926, permanent crease trousers in 1957, the black box flight recorder in 1958 along with the world’s first round the world air service, and night/day contact lenses in 1999.

So, Australia has many new tricks that the rest of the world can learn from.

Tonight at the Ivy Room in Sydney was the annual ABIA – Australian Book Industry Awards - which have been running for 60 years.   One look at the guest list shows a Who’s Who of Australian publishing.

Ingenta conceived and sponsored an award for digital innovation this year – the first time this has been a category at the ABIA. Entries were wide and varied from companies such as Murdoch Books, Hardie Grant Egmont and Penguin, who all produced highly commendable entries.

The decision on the final shortlist was a tough one for the judges:-

Read How You Want – a small independent start-up who have revolutionised the production of a variety of different formats for those with access disabilities.  Using their own designed software, any publisher can simply produce a variety of digital formats some of which can easily be replicated in print too.  These include Braille, DAISY and a variety of large print sizes.  Additionally, RHYW have come up with a solution for those who have reading difficulties due to dyslexia which produces a phonetic format which is far easier to learn and read.  So far 1500 Australian titles have been converted to different formats and are widely available.

Allen & Unwin – a solid entry from Australia’s largest homegrown publishing company.  A&U created a digital companion to shortlisted picture book Parrot Carrot. The initiative aimed to push the technological boundaries of eBooks and utilise new technologies in a way that had not been done before in publishing. Their benchmark for digital creativity was not the publishing world but the best digital work being created across the globe by awarded brands and developers. The project can best be understood here by watching this video.

 

The Reading Room – Their goal is to become the preferred place for readers of all ages to discover books, new releases and debut authors, and share them with others, and connect with like minded  readers. No matter what you readers want to read from fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction, their aim is to provide the reader with the ability to immerse themselves in books and literature. They  are both a community or social network site married with a curated experience for readers that harnesses the best ways to find new books. They enable people to recommend books to each other easily so that recommendations are not algorithms but suggestions from known trusted online friends. They syndicate the New York Times Books Reviews, best-sellers lists, as well as The Guardian.

Cengage – Cengagebrain. The initiative was to create a platform for digital distribution of eBook content and print that met the growing and flexible needs of students and academics in the tertiary sector, branded  Cengagebrain.  A combination of E–Content and print could be accessed and downloaded/delivered securely through the site.  Cengagebrain provides a large and compelling range to be a one stop shop for tertiary students covering major subjects across the tertiary curriculum.  Since launch to market in Jan 2011 over 3,000 eBook titles and 50,000 chapters have been ingested into Cengagebrain.

The entries were judged on the following criteria and entrants are asked to address each in detail:

•    Market penetration: Has there been a significant increase in sales? How does this market share compare with competitors? Consideration should be given to future potential.

•    Innovation: Genuinely new approach to existing technology, first to market and innovation in a worldwide context.

•    Overall success: Increase in sales, significant benefit to the book industry and or consumers. Have goals been met? Is this innovation sustainable? Again, consideration should be given to future potential.

And the winner? Read How You Want.  In the eyes of the judges it was thought that RHYW had produced a truly unique and innovative product which takes reading and books to an audience who are largely ignored.  Whilst RHYW have already been able to produce a number of different accessibility formats thus far, they are continuing their R&D and will be announcing a whole host of new book and eBook enhancements in the coming months.
A well deserved winner and congratulations all round from the team at Ingenta.