Posts by Alex Christopher

Meet Thuong Du from Cambridge Uni Press

The judging is finalised and preparations are being made for the Educational Publishing Awards shortlist announcement and awards ceremony. The EPAAs this year will be broadcast via YouTube on 9 September.

One member of the SEPC, who oversee the EPAA, is Thuong Du, Publishing Manager at Cambridge University Press. Thuong has been with the company for 13 years after an internship placement during her studies. Thuong has been an EPAA judge in 2015 and 2016 and even won an award alongside her team in 2020.

We chatted with Thuong about her career progression and her involvement with the EPAA awards over the years.

Thuong Du, Publishing Manager at Cambridge University Press.

You were an intern in one of the very first APA Publishing Industry Internship Programs. Can you tell us how that opportunity set you on a path in publishing (and at Cambridge)?

I graduated with a Media and Communications degree from the University of Melbourne and completed some publishing subjects during my last semester which opened my eyes to the field as a career path. For one of the assessment tasks, I discussed the future of the book – how digital technologies were changing our understanding of the book, how the book of the future might differ from books of the past and how they might be packaged, marketed, and sold – a topic still relevant for publishers today. 

After doing some research, I discovered the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Internship Program. Before the program, there was no means of linking interested graduates with publishers wishing to hire interns. I recall the APA Project Manager, Libby O’Donnell, stating that the program had received over 700 applications from across the country! I was extremely grateful to have been offered one of five internship placements and to eventually be promoted to a senior role at Cambridge University Press.

You mentioned that your parents weren’t so sure about you starting a career in publishing. Why was that and why did you do it anyway?  

They didn’t know much about careers in publishing and, to be fair, neither did I at the point! However, they’ve always encouraged me to follow my interests – I was taught that passion + hard work would lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career. I’m lucky they were supportive, patient and believed in me (even when, at 15 years old, I told them I wanted to be an artist and signed up for a life drawing course at the local community centre…that’s another story!).

Tell us about your job now. What do you do on a day to day basis? Why do you like it?

I work closely with the Publishing Director, Linda Kowarzik, to manage a team of staff and ensure the successful delivery of a publishing program for the Australian secondary education market. I’m also responsible for the management of a list area(s). On a day-to-day basis, you’ll usually find me in meetings, preparing manuscripts for handover, responding to customer queries, briefing authors etc. One of them asked recently, “how many others (authors) do you work with?” It was 43 by my count last year!

Looking back on the last thirteen years from intern to Publishing Manager, I feel a tremendous sense of pride to have worked on many challenging and interesting projects. The Press has endured for almost five centuries and, much like the Press, I’m still learning and growing every day. I truly believe in the organisation’s motto – advancing knowledge, learning and research – and it is a privilege to work alongside colleagues who are passionate and strive for quality and excellence in serving teachers and learners. The organisation is filled with people who really care and encourage innovation and knowledge sharing.

What’s something that most publishing degree graduates don’t know about the educational publishing sector that they really should? Is it a place where they could exercise their skills learnt at uni?

Publishing is a fast-paced, deadline-driven, constantly changing environment that requires innovative approaches to overcoming challenges. Colleagues and authors are driven by a genuine commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. I think you can only be happy if the organisation’s values align with your own and it is important to love what you do – this is what will keep you motivated and sustained, and ensure success, along with exercising the skills learnt at university. 

You were part of the judging panel a few years ago. What did participating as a judge do for your professional development?

I was a judge and Chair of the panel for the EPAAs from 2015 to 2016. It’s a rigorous process but I really enjoyed my experience. As well as celebrating excellence in educational resources, it’s a wonderful opportunity for educational publishing professionals to meet new colleagues, network, and share expertise and knowledge. It’s also a time of the year where we all get the chance to take a step back from our day-to-day tasks, recognise our hard work and give ourselves a pat on the back! 

You’ve been part of a team that’s won an EPAA award. Which resource/s was it for? How did it feel to win? How do you benchmark what makes an excellent resource? 

Last year, our years 7–10 science resources, Cambridge Science for the Victorian Curriculum won in the category ‘Secondary Student Resource – Junior – Mathematics/Science’. Our Publisher, Naomi Sutanto, delivered a brilliant series and it was great to see our enthusiasm for it reflected in this win. We strive to publish resources that raise the benchmark for quality, innovation and excellence. The judges said that the series “has a fresh, engaging design and is easy to follow, with seamless integration of digital and print products…a large variety of high-quality questions and activities, along with real-world investigations to enrich curious students’ learning”. It was the good news staff needed whilst enduring very tough lockdown restrictions!

You’re now a member of the Schools and Education Publishers Committee. What’s the biggest thing that needs to be addressed for the growth of educational publishing as a whole? How do you hope to help while on the committee? 

I recently joined the Schools and Education Publishers Committee and am excited to participate in this forum. I think one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed in education publishing is our engagement with important stakeholders in the educational arena. We need to work collaboratively to ensure the industry’s contribution is better understood and appreciated and to allow us to produce the best resources possible – resources that innovate, are published in a timely manner, and address the requirements of local curricula.

Who from the industry would you say has been the biggest support to you in your career? Who would you like to give a big shout out to?  

This is a no-brainer. Biggest shout out goes to Linda, my boss. It’s important to develop great relationships at work and to look for mentors who can support you along the way. Linda took me under her wing since starting at the Press. I’ve always been inspired by her confidence in my abilities and felt supported throughout my career. I have a lot of respect for her – she’s a doer and leads by example. And I’ve always admired her ability to ruthlessly prioritise and deliver with urgency. She also loves a good quote and I know she’ll be reading this, so this one’s for her: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Subscribe to the APA’s YouTube channel to get updates on the awards ceremony. Make sure you are a subscriber at the APA too.

The EPAA shortlist announcement will be made on 19 August 2021.

Mike Horsley Award open for nominations

Nominations for this year’s Mike Horsley Award are now open.

This award is named after the founder of the EPAAs and recognises outstanding service to educational publishing (primary, secondary and/or tertiary).

Nominate someone you know who has demonstrated long-standing and exemplary service to the educational publishing field.

Past winners include Peter van Noorden and Peter Stannard. Past winners include Peter van Noorden and Peter StannardNominations can be made here until 31 July 2021 – being called Peter isn’t a prerequisite! 

Feedback sought on Australian educational publishers and learning resources

Educational Publishing Awards Australia Screenshot

Educational publishers are requesting the feedback of booksellers, educators and librarians about their service to the education sector.

If you buy, sell or use educational resources, we want you to cast your vote in the Publisher of the Year survey. It will help decide this year’s Australian Primary and Secondary Publishers of the Year. More importantly, however, the information provided informs us of the needs of the education sector. It’s part of an ongoing process of consultation with the education community and continual improvement in the educational publishing sector.

As a thank you for participating, you will automatically go into the draw to win a $500 David Jones gift card or one of three EPAA prize packs full of books! 

Wherever you are, we welcome you to tune in to the Educational Publishing Awards winners announcement on 9 September.

Have your say here!

About the Awards

The Educational Publishing Awards Australia celebrates excellence and innovation in educational publishing. The event recognises publishers’ pursuit in creating cutting-edge, groundbreaking and pedagogically sound resources for teachers and students.

More on the survey

Please complete the short survey here. You will be asked to rate publishers on five areas: product quality, field services, company services, marketing and innovation.

The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes. It closes on Friday,  9 July 2021 at 11:59pm. AEST.

The survey will ask for your email address, to ensure we only receive one response per person. However, the survey data is completely anonymous.

The awards and the survey are organised by the Australian Publishers Association, and if you have any problems, please contact

Follow us via:

Publisher of the Year survey

How to make a video for your entry

The EPAA committee highly encourages the inclusion of video submissions as part of your entry. This is your chance to really highlight what makes your product stand out, and help tell a story to the judges of why you should win.

We will be showcasing the submitted video entries for winners during the awards ceremony. In the case that no video is submitted for a winner, we will create our own video content through what has been submitted for both print and digital entries to use for the awards ceremony. You can see the examples of this in last year’s video.

If you have video content already available that you think is suitable, please feel free to use that; however, if you’re making a new video, here are some tips to help.

The video should:

  • Be concise, no more than 2 -3 minutes. (It will be cut down to a 20-second clip for the broadcast in the event your product wins.)
  • Highlight key features of the product to illustrate what you are submitting in the written form
  • Work well without audio, as videos of winning products will be played with judges’ comments read over the top. You can include audio if you think it will help the judges, but it won’t be in the broadcast.

Recording options

Digital resources

Screen capture is a good option for digital resources. You should:

  • Use a product like Loom or, on Mac, the screen-record/screenshot tools
  • Make the resource full-screen before recording the video if possible. (The APA can help do a basic top and tail edit.)

Physical resources

Our preference for physical resources is someone filming in landscape using a smartphone. You should make sure to have:

  • Adequate lighting
  • Natural light 
  • A plain background
  • No branding, straps or graphics on the video.

If you have a blended product and are not sure how to manage these two together, please get in touch with the APA. We want to help you showcase your entry in the best way possible.

Please see here for more information about entering.

McGraw Hill, winners of the 2020 Outstanding Tertiary Resource

The Educational Publishing Awards of Australia were founded on celebrating innovation and research and this year those principles were put to the test. While educational publishers have deftly accelerated their digital offerings during the pandemic, the future looks set to bring more transformation in the way tertiary publishers, in particular, support educators and learning. 

We recently spoke to the Higher Education product and publishing team at McGraw Hill. As winners of the Most Outstanding Tertiary Educational  Resource  2020, Matthew Coxhill, Portfolio Manager of Higher Education, confirms that keeping an open mind about how to approach the business of educational publishing will be key in the near future. 

The winning resource, Financial Accounting 9th, was deemed comprehensive and relevant by the judges and in our chat we found out more about the textbook’s development and the challenges the team faced bringing it to the market – all before the pandemic reared.  

It’s been a big year and universities have been terribly hit. How would you say COVID has most impacted the Tertiary publishing industry? 

Apart from a simple loss of revenue due to reduced enrolments, COVID-19 has accelerated trends that were already in place. That is, our industry has had to move to a more digital focus faster than would otherwise have been the case, so we are at a place now that may have taken two to three years to reach. There is also the question of student buying habits and reliance on publisher produced content. This had been in decline, but with the sudden move online traditional sources of content further lost relevance quite suddenly.

What’s been the biggest learning your company has taken on board after this year? 

Probably the need to review our fundamental business models and assumptions with a view to how we can best develop and deliver content to the higher education sector. The move to digital is only a part of that. We will become more agile in how we respond to market needs, both student and lecturer.

Given the 2020 we’re experiencing, what is your approach to 2021 and the resources you plan to develop?  

An open mind! Let’s not do it the way we always have done.

Your resource Financial Accounting 9th won at the Educational publishing awards this year — and was deemed the most outstanding resource in the tertiary bracket. What do you feel accounts for the win? In terms of the resources’ features, what’s McGraw Hill most proud of with it? 

McGraw Hill is most proud of how the resourcebook came together with the content bringing to life material around the Australian Accounting Standards. The author, Craig Deegan, is adept at providing clarity of explanation for students in what is a complex subject and it is this that has led to the book being the leader in its market. We were also able to pull a complex project together in a remarkablyin remarkably short time, meeting the target publication date and allowing use at the start of 2020.

What or who sparked the need for an updated edition?

This text is aimed at 2nd and 3rd year, and post-grad, accounting students and must be relevant to the most recent changes to the IASB Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting and the Australian Accounting Standards. This need for currency drove the need for a new edition, together with newer topics in the discipline such as social responsibility and sustainability.

What was the process of pulling the resource together? How long did it take and how many people were involved? (trying to communicate the value of what you do here!)  

A textbook like this involves a significant team. The first steps begin with the publisher commissioning extensive market research, all coordinated in house. Sales and marketing people are invaluable, as they provide names and contact details of lecturers familiar with the book who can provide feedback. After discussion with the author, a business case is put together by the publisher and presented to the company for approval. This includes the justification (market and financial) for moving ahead with the new edition. A Content Developer then works with the author to pull the book together (as well as conducting further reviews to check the changes being made are in line with the market). The manuscript is then turned into a book by a Project Editor, who works with an external designer, editor, permissions editor, typesetter, proof-reader and tech checker at different stages. There is also (these days) a considerable contribution from the digital side of the business, to ensure that the online ancillary material (eg. testbank, PowerPoints, videos) is accurate and working. All up, the process can take around 18 months depending on its complexity.

Were there any challenges in making it or promoting it?

One aspect that had an impact during production was that the permissions landscape is getting more complicated. This meant a more complex process for securing permission to use third party material, as well as more costly. In terms of the market, this is a very competitive space. With our publication date being slightly later than is ideal, our sales and marketing people had to work harder to gain interest from lecturers and to get them to delay decisions until later than normal.  We provided an updated bank of Quiz questions to keep adopters on board until the new edition was ready. Having said that, these challenges were overcome effectively, and numerous new adoptions were won. Of course, this paled with the onset of COVID-19 and the challenges it brought.

What’s been the feedback from educators who are using it?

Educators are impressed by the depth of content and the approach. The additional topics have been well-received, as has been the significant digital package, and the author videos, which help to ‘demystify’ some of the content. The sudden move to wholly online delivery earlier in 2020 meant that the digital materials were even more relevant and useful than before. We are also lucky to have a widely known and respected author this work.

Have you received any feedback from student users? Is that information you are able to collect?

Historically we have had anecdotal direct student feedback. Having said that, the author’s aim with this resource package is to speak more directly to the student, explaining the how and why of financial accounting, instead of just the ‘how’. It will be interesting to see if we notice increased student engagement with the publisher.