Monday, June 16, 2014

More on the PANZ Book Design Awards

A guest post from Sam Elworthy, president of the Publishers’ Association of New Zealand, in reply to my comments on two of the judges being finalists in this year’s awards:
Thanks for the interest in the PANZ Book Design Awards, Stephen. The Publishers Association decided a few years back that the best judges for book design awards were people who actually design books — and that the judges we wanted were the very best in that field. And each year we also have a lay judge (this year, Noelle McCarthy) to speak for the book consumer.
To have the best book designers as judges means that some of them will have entries in the awards. The BEST design awards have a similar issue — design practitioners judging other practitioners, and their own work often being in the finals list. It works, and isn’t an issue, because there are clear procedures in place for the judges to recuse themselves and to exert independence. PANZ also have clear procedures for dealing with these issues as they arise. We’re happy with the high calibre of the judges and the integrity of the decision-making process.
Too few women? It has turned out, for various reasons, that this year Noelle is the sole woman judge but that hasn’t been the balance in past judging line-ups. We don’t believe it’s useful to operate a rigid quota system.

On Twitter, Jared Davidson comments:


helenalex said...

Could they not have replaced Alan Deare - who can judge less than half the categories in the awards - with some great book designer from overseas, who would know about design but not be eligible for an award herself?

Stephen Stratford said...

I think the problem with getting an overseas judge would be the cost - this award does not have a big budget. Talking point: would an overseas judge be helpful? Maybe yes, maybe no. I've seen the cartoon section of the media awards - used to be Qantas, now Canon I think - be terribly skewed by overseas judges who rated highly cartoons on international issues they knew about but didn't consider great cartoons on local issues that would have been obscure to them. Same would apply to literary awards, I think - but design is a bit more culture-neutral. Or is it? It's a debate that would be good to have. I'd suggest for the panel an Oz book designer, a NZ bookseller and a media hottie.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest a Aus book designer, a retired NZ book designer and a bookseller.