Odessa Owens, Fergus Barrowman, Spencer Levine and Nevena Nikolic

Odessa Owens with the winners of both the Best Book award and Best Non-illustrated Book category, Fergus Barrowman (interior) and Spencer Levine (cover), and Nevena Nikolic of sponsors Nielsen Book Services

Publishing Programme Leader Odessa Owens got to exercise her design eye at the book design awards:

It was a dream come true… I was surrounded by dozens and dozens of books, and I was being asked for my opinion on how they look. Thank you, PANZ, for choosing me to be the convening judge in the 2016 Book Design Awards.

Working with designers has always been the best part of my job. During my time in publishing, I’ve been lucky to team up with many of the most talented and experienced designers in New Zealand, aiming to create books that entice the reader, please the author and, above all, honour the content (to paraphrase Robert Bringhurst).

The judging process has been an entirely pleasurable experience. It involved none of the long hours or hard work of actually creating the book, just the privileged job of looking at the finished product – turning the pages, being led in through the prelims, navigating through the parts, learning the rhythm of the book, responding to the cover and all its details, holding the heft of the book and sizing up the whole package.

The other judges, Rowan Somerset and Arch MacDonnell, both award-winning designers in their own right, made me see and appreciate the books in new and unexpected ways. Everyone interprets design differently, but the age-old principles remain, and book design in New Zealand is in very good health.

You can see the 2016 award winners on the PANZ Book Design Awards site.

This article originally appeared in the Whitireia Publishing Winter 2016 newsletter. Sign up for our newsletters here.

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