Report from the 2022 AGM

01/06/2022

One year into the role, Australian Publishers Association President James Kellow reflects below on our organisation’s achievements over the past year and highlights new priorities for the years ahead in Diversity and Inclusion, and Sustainability. 

There’s also news of recent changes to our board and committees, and a celebration of this year’s recipients of the George Robertson Awards.

A black and white photograph of James Kellow leaning against a stone wall. James wears glasses and a casual suit, his arms are crossed.
APA President, James Kellow

It’s been a busy year. Again. 

Let me start by formally acknowledging the contributions of my colleagues on the APA Board. It’s an encouraging and rewarding experience to work with committed and capable people from across the industry on things that can make a difference to us all. I’m grateful to them for their wise counsel, their time and effort. 

The Committees and working groups are a vital part of the Association’s work. Many members volunteer their time for work that benefits the industry as a whole, and we appreciate their efforts and the support of their companies. Many hours of effort are also put in by working groups who organise or lead our events, including the ABIAs, EPAAs, the BookUp conference, Australian Reading Hour, and the Residential Editorial Program. For anyone interested – there are always plenty of opportunities to take part.

Advocacy

Advocacy for the industry is at the core of our purpose. All of us, across the whole industry, depend on there being a property right in what we produce. And unhappily, copyright, the law that establishes and defines that right, has been again – or perhaps still is – under threat. 

Over the past year we’ve engaged with governments on education issues and open access to research publications. 

Underlying the concerns of educational publishers are the policy and regulatory frameworks which determine the conditions of procurement. While these continue to become more demanding, there is relief that the new national curriculum has finally been agreed – with dates for adoption by the individual states starting to be clarified. 

There was also a welcome discussion with Chief Scientist, Cathy Foley, about the possibility of a national licence for journals and research publications. This led to an APA collaboration with STM to prepare an overview of Australian journals publishing in the international research context.

As a general approach to advocacy we’ve put a lot of effort into finding a way to go beyond “Just Saying No”: to show how the industry could contribute to public policy goals; to build a coalition across the whole industry; to propose new things Government could do. 

Books Create Australia is now a vehicle that can carry whole-of-industry messages, and we’ve secured agreement of the other members – the ABA, ASA and ALIA – for an industry plan for Reading and Books. Before the election we released seven recommendations for action by the Government. We’re proposing the creation of a national plan for reading and books that would put reading at the centre of Australian life, widen the pipeline for new Australian stories, ensure local content in schools, and help modernise the infrastructure that supports the industry. 

New priorities

In the next few years the Board has two new priorities: Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), and Sustainability. Of course they’re national – even global – challenges and not specific to our industry. But the publishing industry has to respond, and the Board believes the APA can help it do so. Astrid Browne from Hardie Grant will Chair the newly established D&I Working Group while Kathy Bail from UNSW Press will continue as Chair of the Sustainability Working Group.

You can read more about our work in these priority areas here:

Infrastructure investments

At last year’s AGM, the Board reported to members that it intended to make extra investments in two big areas: efficient infrastructure and aggregate demand. 

Over the past year we’ve continued development of TitlePage using the increased capabilities of ONIX 3. In an application for RISE funding, we presented a vision of improving the digital connections between TitlePage, suppliers and retailers, to make it easier to put books in front of customers. 

We’re nearing the end of a very thorough research and feasibility study enabled by that RISE grant, and we’ve started work designing a new API and data framework that will allow two-way integrations across the supply chain. This will mean TitlePage users can get more value from the database, and contribute more data to it. 

Australia Reads logoAustralia Reads

Another focus has been to increase the profile of our industry. In working together, the books and publishing industry can advocate more strongly for Government support, share insights, and seek to understand and reach new markets. The promotion of reading for pleasure has been highlighted as the single most important objective we share with booksellers, librarians, authors and illustrators. 

In response, the Australian Reading Hour has been expanded into Australia Reads: a collaborative annual program to get more Australians reading more often. Australia Reads is creating and fueling public reading campaigns, attracting new partnerships, sharing reader research and positioning to grow and respond to industry needs.

So much more

Of course new priorities don’t remove the continuing work of the Association, and members will have seen evidence of this throughout the year – including this new website. 

From the celebratory events such as the ABIAs and EPAAs through to professional development opportunities such as REP and the BookUp conference. There’s also been continued promotion of Australian publishers internationally, through networking events and the Books From Australia website

Board & committee elections

This year two elected director positions were up for election: one Vice-President and one Elected Director. Mark O’Neil, Managing Director of Cambridge University Press & Assessment, has been re-elected Vice-President and Julie Burland, Chief Executive Officer of Penguin Random House Australia & New Zealand, has been re-elected as Director. 

Current board:

President: 

  • James Kellow (Ultimo Press)

Vice-Presidents: 

  • Robert Gorman (Allen & Unwin)
  • Mark O’Neil (Cambridge University Press & Assessment)

Other board members:

  • Brendan Bolton (Cengage Learning)
  • Julie Burland (Penguin Random House)
  • Emma Cooper (Oxford University Press)
  • Karen Hildebrandt (Taylor & Francis)
  • Ben James (University of Queensland Press)
  • Andrew Stammer (CSIRO Publishing)
  • Louise Stark (Hachette)

The following people were elected to the three sectional committees that were up for election:

Scholarly and Journals Committee

  • Andrew Stammer, CSIRO Publishing (Convenor)
  • Fiona Barron, Elsevier
  • Peter D'Onghia, Wiley 
  • Natalie Fee, Taylor & Francis
  • Nathan Hollier, Melbourne University Publishing
  • Emma Juniper, Informit
  • James Mercer, Springer Nature
  • Susan Murray, Sydney University Press

Schools Educational Publishers Committee

  • Brendan Bolton, Cengage Learning (Convenor)
  • Thuong Du, Cambridge University Press & Assessment
  • Megan Edwards, Primary English Teaching Association Australia
  • Elio Guarnuccio, Lingopont
  • Brent Ramsay, Wiley
  • Cameron Salton, Pearson Australia Group
  • Melinda Schumann, Matilda Education 
  • Olivia Tolich, Pearson Australia Group

Tertiary and Professional Publishers Committee 

  • Karen Hildebrandt, Taylor & Francis (Convenor)
  • Michael Cowley, Cambridge University Press & Assessment 
  • Yazmin Islam, Wiley
  • Helen Madden, Cengage
  • Laura Montalto, Oxford University Press
  • Larissa Norrie, Elsevier

Next year’s elections will be for the Trade, Chidlren's, and Independent Publishers Committees. Please contact us if you have any questions about any of the APA’s sectoral committees.

George Robertson Award recipients

The George Robertson Awards are presented to industry veterans who have served 30 or more years in publishing. Below are the names of this incredible group of people who together have dedicated over 250 years to book publishing. 

  • Pam Brewster, Publisher, Hardie Grant Books
  • Tracey Cheetham, Publicity & Marketing Director, Pan Macmillan Australia
  • Leanne Cramond, Sales Representative, Pan Macmillan Australia 
  • Sally Devenish, Production Manager, Pan Macmillan Australia 
  • Clive Jackson, Account Manager – South Australia, Penguin Random House
  • Karen Reid, Launch Director, Penguin Random House
  • Denise Ryan, Director and Publisher, Denise Ryan and Associates
  • Erica Wagner, Consulting Publisher (ex-Allen & Unwin, now freelance)

A special recognition on retirement was also made to Phill Knight, formerly Distribution Director at  Alliance Distribution Services (ADS).

You can hear a little about the contributions they’ve made to publishing in this video:

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