• Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr & Edie Wright read at Barrangaroo Early Childhood. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Magabala Books is named ABIA Small Publisher of the year for 2020, with several of its titles also recognised on award shortlists.
Ilias Bakalla

15 May 2020 - 9:32 AM  UPDATED 1 Sep 2020 - 1:29 PM

The Broome-based publishing house, Magabala Books, has been recognised for its publishing programme and contribution to the book industry in Australia.

Magabala Books Chairperson Edie Wright said she was immensely proud to win the award and that it was a real team effort.

“It’s just nice to know that a real, remote Indigenous publishing house can cut it with all the other ones," said Ms Wright.

"When you’re remote you really do have to work twice as hard. We feel that all the work we have done has come to fruition and we’ve just been so acknowledged.” 

Ms Wright had a long list of people she wanted to thank including, creators, the board, staff, freelance workers, industry partners, the bookshops and all the funding bodies including the Western Australian government, Arts Funding bodies and philanthropists who contribute.

The award is a huge win for Indigenous people and Ms Wright believes it’s a mark that Australia is nearing maturity in its perception of First Nations Peoples.

“I think people are starting to realise that there are Indigenous creators out there who can cut it on their own, and the beauty is they tell stories from an Indigenous perspective, which white people just can’t do.” Ms Wright said.

Over the last 33 years, Magabala books have published over 300 titles from a diverse range of storytellers.

Publisher Rachel Bin Salleh says she has always felt that Magabala is and must remain a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can stand in their own truths.

“This means being prepared to challenge the status quo, breaking down stereotypes, and never assuming that great stories need to emerge from ‘literate’ individuals and communities,” Ms Bin Salleh said.

“Our founding Elders, some of whom experienced first contact, understood the power of the written word and saw the opportunity to take back control of their stories.

“This motivation, at the heart of Magabala, is just as relevant today.”

The award caps off a successful year for the company with several Magabala titles recognised on the ABIA shortlist including Bruce Pascoe’s Young Dark Emu for the Book of the Year for Younger Children; Kirli Saunders’ Kindred for the Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year; and Sally Morgan and Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr’s Little Bird’s Day for the Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year. 

Looking to the future, Ms Wright said Magabala will explore its overseas development as well as the education market.

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