Meet the judges! 2023

We’re excited to have a panel of judges who have experience across a range of disciplines in addition to book design, including graphic design, art direction, design education, publishing and academia.

Paul McNally is the Managing Director and Publisher of Smith Street Books, a leading independent publishing company – and one of Australia’s fastest growing – that he launched in 2015. With a focus on design-led non-fiction publishing, Smith Street Books has been regularly featured on ABDA shortlists, as well as taking out top category prizes. Prior to Smith Street Books, Paul worked at Hardie Grant, Murdoch Books and Weldon Owen, and freelanced for other publishers both here and in the UK since the late ‘90s.

Nada Backovic is an award-winning Sydney based book designer and illustrator with more than 25 years’ experience working within publishing. Nada works across a broad range of genres, including, fiction, non-fiction, illustrated books and textbooks.
Nada, who is originally from London, worked in house at Random House UK and was the Design Manager at Allen and Unwin. She now runs her own design studio and works with a variety of publishers across Australia and the UK.

George Saad is a freelance book designer and the recipient of the Emerging Designer’s Award, 2022. He loves type, and gets inspiration from film and other media. He is interested in blending the traditional world of books with more modern media.

Laura Thomas is an award-winning book designer with over 15 years experience in the publishing industry. She is a senior designer at Scribe Publications, and has previously worked in-house at Penguin. Laura has designed covers for many publishers in Australia, and enjoys working across many different kinds of books.

W.H. Chong is the design director of Text Publishing. He was inducted into the Australian Book Designers Hall of Fame in 2013.

Laura Brading is the co-founder and director of WellRead, a literary book subscription service that aims to foster a love of reading and build community through literature. She also works as an interviewer and moderator. Prior to establishing WellRead in 2019, Laura worked in the publishing industry and as a bookseller.

Pooja Desai is the Art Director at Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing where she also publishes books into a ground-breaking list called Bright Light. Pooja is an award-winning designer and the recipient of the 2021 ABIA Rising Star award in recognition of her achievements within the publishing industry. A past secretary of ABDA, Pooja has also promoted book design through speaking events at Geelong Design Week, Editors Victoria, and the Independent Publishing Conference. She hates peas and loves collecting vases.

Zoë Sadokierski is an award-winning book designer, author, educator and Associate Professor at the UTS School of Design. She is a founding member and former president of the Australian Book Designers Association. In 2015 Zoë established Page Screen Books, an independent publisher of artist’s books and visual essays. Her works on paper and artist books have been exhibited in galleries including Gagosian Gallery (Los Angeles), Brenda May (Sydney), First Draft (Sydney), John Curtin Gallery (WA) and acquired by the National Library of Australia, state libraries of NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and the Library of Artistic Print on Demand (Munich).