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RMIT student Lauren Connell has received a prestigious award for her essay about sustainability challenges and possible solutions for Australia’s trade publishing industry.

Her insightful essay, “Can Australia’s trade publishing industry go green?”, has won the Institute of Professional Editors Student Prize for 2023.

“I submitted my report for the prize after some encouragement from my tutor in the assessment feedback, but I never dreamed it would actually win!” Connell said.

“I was at home with my dad who was out the back taking the new puppy for a walk when he heard screaming from inside the house. Initially he thought I had set the house on fire or something, so he was relieved when he found me at the desk beaming at my laptop instead!”

A Master of Writing and Publishing student at RMIT, Connell’s essay acknowledges that many of the major players in Australia’s publishing industry have already begun embracing green initiatives. Her work focuses on the small and independent presses and how to support their implementation of sustainable publishing practice, as more environmentally friendly book production methods can be financially prohibitive for small players.

Her essay draws on industry presentations, reports and articles, and interviews with Australian publishing professionals, namely Stuart Glover, Policy and Government Relations Manager, Australian Publishers Association; Gary Pengelly, CEO, Books+Publishing; Jane Fraser, former CEO, Fremantle Press; Stephanie Bishop-Hall, Production Manager, Affirm Press; Louis de Vries, Director, Hybrid Publishers; and Gavin Schwarcz, Sales Director, Penguin Random House.

Connell’s upbringing in regional Victoria fuelled her interest in the environment and sustainability, and reading The new climate war by Michael Mann further inspired her.

“Mann’s book is another level of eye-opening, and it’s nearly impossible to come out the other side without the urge to act,” Connell said. “I believe we’re all responsible – every individual, industry, government and corporation. That’s what compelled me to research sustainability in the sector I hope to work in. Writing this report has shown me how much the industry does care about this issue and that progress is finally starting to happen.” 

The annual IPEd Student Prize acknowledges excellent work by a student of editing or publishing at a New Zealand or Australian tertiary institution. It is designed to enhance the profession of editing and support student work on issues relevant to the industry.