A Night of Big Wins at the 2019 ABIAs

by |May 3, 2019

A motley crew of authors, publishers and booksellers descended upon the Grand Ballroom of the International Convention Centre in Sydney last night for the book world’s biggest event of the year: the Australian Book Industry Awards.

Hosted by musician Casey Bennetto, it was a fantastic evening celebrating the best books, publishers, and booksellers from the previous year. The awards were presented by some amazing writers like Clementine Ford, Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, and Richard Flanagan, and there were musical performances by Akala and Paul Kelly, who performed a moving tribute to the poet Les Murray.

2019 ABIAs
Clockwise from left: Casey Benetto, Paul Kelly, and Akala

By 6:30, the guests were seated, the drinks were flowing, and the awards night was well and truly underway.

With over 7,000 books published every year, it’s safe to say that the competition for 2019 was fierce and judging a winner for each category was no mean feat for the ABIA academy (comprised of over 250 respected publishing industry figures). Nevertheless, they managed to find a worthy winner for every single category – so let’s get right into it!

First and foremost, Booktopia is simply thrilled to announce that we received the award for National Book Retailer of the Year. This is such an honour for us – this is our third time receiving this award, and we could not have done it without the readers and writers of Australia.

Our CEO, Tony Nash, had this to say upon accepting the award: “I didn’t just win – we won! We as in us, the Booktopia team of 200 people, but also 5 million Australians that have bought from us… it’s all collective, it’s the industry – it’s the authors, publishers, distributors… It’s a very, very satisfying feeling!”

2019 ABIAs
Joel Naoum, Sarah McDuling, Trent Dalton, Jo Lewin, and Ben Hunter

The Booktopians present at the ceremony partied hard in celebration, but the night truly belonged to Trent Dalton, whose debut novel Boy Swallows Universe took home a record-breaking 4 awards (the first book to ever do so)!

Trent Dalton’s quirky coming-of-age story about a young boy growing up in the shadow of Queensland’s violent criminal underworld won the ABIA for Book of the Year, Literary Book of the Year, the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year, and Audio Book of the Year. Boy Swallows Universe has taken Australia by storm – it’s now sold over 100,000 copies across all formats since its publication in July 2018.

It’s the kind of publishing success story that’s almost too good to be true and Trent could scarcely believe it himself, but that’s the power of a great book.

“Something catches on and just takes fire… it’s just deeply moving.” he says.

Boy Swallows Universe has been a firm favourite amongst our staff ever since the beginning, with our reviewer Ben Hunter calling it “exhilarating, funny, heartbreaking, horrifying and all-throughout uncompromising.” Congratulations Trent!

2019 ABIAs
Trent Dalton, record-breaking winner of 4 ABIAs!

Other big winners included Holly Ringland (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart), Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (The 104-Storey Treehouse), Dr Anita Heiss (editor of Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia), Bri Lee (Eggshell Skull), and many more!

Without further ado, here is the full list of winners from the Australian Book Industry Awards for 2019:

ABIA Book of the Year

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Literary Fiction Book of the Year

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

General Fiction Book of the Year

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Biography of the Year Award

Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

General Non-Fiction Book of the Year

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani, trans.by Omid Tofighian

Honourable Mention for Non-Fiction Book of the Year: Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

2019 ABIAs
Bri Lee, Holly Ringland, Trent Dalton, and Andrew Sean Greer.

International Book of the Year

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Illustrated Book of the Year

Family: New vegetable classics to comfort and nourish by Hetty McKinnon

Small Publisher Adult Book of the Year

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Dr Anita Heiss (ed.)

Small Publisher Children’s Book of the Year

Whisper by Lynette Noni

2019 ABIAs
General Fiction Book of the Year winner Holly Ringland.

The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Book of the Year for Older Children (ages 13+)

Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds by Jeremy Lachlan

Book of the Year for Younger Children (ages 7-12)

The 104-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Children’s Picture Book of the Year (ages 0-6)

All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

2019 ABIAs
Clockwise from left: Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb, Andrew Sean Greer, and Bri Lee.

Audio Book of the Year

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, narr. by Stig Wemyss

Lloyd O’Neil Hall of Fame Award

Richard Walsh

Pixie O’Harris Award

Kathy Kozlowski

Publisher of the Year

Pan Macmillan Australia

2019 ABIAs
Clockwise from left: Jeremy Lachlan, Davina Bell, and Andy Griffiths.

Small Publisher of the Year

Affirm Press

Honourable Mention: Magabala Books

National Book Retailer of the Year


Independent Book Retailer of the Year

Mary Martin Bookshops

Rising Star Award

Ella Chapman (Digital Marketing Manager, Hachette)

Listen to our podcast from the 2019 ABIAs!

Boy Swallows Universeby Trent Dalton

Boy Swallows Universe

by Trent Dalton

ABIA Book of the Year 2019

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way - not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.

But Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum...

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About the Contributor

Olivia Fricot is the Editor of the Booktopian Blog. After finishing a soul-crushing law degree, Olivia decided that life was much better with one's nose in a book and quickly defected to the world of Austen and Woolf. You can usually find her reading (obviously), baking, writing questionable tweets, and completing a Master's degree in English literature. Just don't ask about her thesis. Olivia is on Twitter and Instagram @livfricot - follow at your own risk.

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