History of the Awards

For more that 64 years the Australian Book Design Awards have celebrated the bravest, the most beautiful and most original books published in Australia. Making it the longest running design awards in Australia.

Originally created and hosted by the Australian Publishers Association (APA), these annual awards have long been the singular gathering for designers and our associates – publishers, editors, typesetters, illustrators, printers and other collaborators – to discuss, critique and revel in exceptional book design. At a time when much of our collaboration happens via email, coming together in person is an important part of maintaining this productive and collegial community.

At the end of 2013, the APA announced it would no longer host the annual Book Design Awards. So it was that eight designers and a business person formed a committee on a volunteer basis to build a new non-profit host organisation. With the generous support from our founding sponsors, the inaugural ABDA-run awards were held on 22 August 2014 alongside the Melbourne Writers Festival, followed by the 2015 awards in May alongside the Sydney Writers’ Festival. The ABDA Book Design Awards are now held annually in May each year rotating between Sydney and Melbourne.

It is ABDA’s mission to continue these important awards that recognise design bravery from not only the designers themselves but their publishers and associates.

Entries are judged by an invited panel of peers from design, publishing, bookseller and educational backgrounds. The judging panel also includes an international guest judge.

In 2019 the award categories were as follows:

The Awards

  • Best Designed Children’s Illustrated Book
  • Best Designed Children’s Fiction Book
  • Best Designed Young Adult Cover
  • Best Designed Children’s/Young Adult Series
  • Best Designed Educational Primary/Secondary Book
  • Best Designed Educational Tertiary Book
  • Best Designed Commercial Fiction Cover
  • Best Designed Literary Fiction Cover
  • Best Designed Autobiography/Biography/Memoir/Non-Fiction Cover
  • Best Designed Non-Fiction Book (including Scholarly and Reference)
  • Best Designed Series (including Classics)
  • Best Designed Independent Book
  • Best Designed Fully Illustrated Book under $50
  • Best Designed Fully Illustrated Book over $50
  • Best Designed Cookbook

Designers’ Choice
Designers’ Choice Awards are voted on by eligible ABDA members at the Awards for the following categories:

  • Designers’ Choice Book of the Year
  • Designers’ Choice Cover of the Year
  • Designers’ Choice Children’s/Young Adult Book of the Year

Open to Nominations

  • Emerging Designer of the Year: is awarded to a designer who has no greater than five years experience working as a book designer and is awarded for a portfolio of work.
  • The Design Hall of Fame Award: is awarded periodically to a designer whose body of work and role in the book industry have made a significant contribution to the standards of book design in Australia.

Below are some happy snaps from the 2019 Awards ceremony in Sydney featuring ABDA members and award winners!