The competition Best Book Design from all over the World

Stiftung Buchkunst (German foundation for book design) networks international book design competitions under the umbrella of »Best Book Design from all over the World«.  Despite cultural differences in book production, this competition is an attempt to compare the technical and aesthetic level as well as the appropriate and artistic design of books beyond national borders. The focus is on international exchange and mutual stimulation.

Hundreds of award-winning titles from national competitions in over 30 countries are examined by an international jury of experts. In the international competition, only books that have previously been judged and awarded prizes by expert juries in their respective countries of origin are evaluated.

The highest award given by the jury is the "Golden Letter". In addition, one »Gold Medal«, two »Silver Medals«, five »Bronze Medals« and five »Honorary Appreciations« will be selected. All awards are non-endowed. The awarding of the certificates usually takes place during the Leipzig Book Fair. 

Unique of its kind in the world, the annual book design competition »Best Books from all over the World« has been held in Leipzig since 1963. Since 1991 the Stiftung Buchkunst in Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig has been responsible for overseeing it.

international publication 2021

international publication 2020

history Best Book Design from all over the World

When the competition for the »Best Book Design from all over the World« was first held in 1963, it drew on ideas going right back to the early decades of the last century. In 1927, thirteen years after the legendary International Exhibition for Book Trade and Graphics (known as BUGRA), the international book art exhibition (iba) in Leipzig was intended to offer a “well-ordered and suitably unified overview of modern achievements in book art and book graphics”. Although 20 countries, including the USA and Japan, participated in the unprecedented exhibition with almost 20,000 works by 1,100 book artists, it became clear that book design in the years after the First World War only gradually found its way back to material objectivity.

The competition »Best Book Design from all over the World« and the accompanying exhibition began quite modestly in 1963 with 200 books gathered from 20 countries — press reports spoke of a "successful improvisation". From 1968 onwards the exhibition was upgraded by the incorporation of a special thematic display. The Golden Letter, initially awarded as a prize for the best contribution to these thematic exhibitions, later advanced to become the competition's highest award.

It was also thanks to the international book exhibitions and the winners of the »Best Book Design from all over the World« that Leipzig was able to maintain its international reputation as a "book city" right up to the time of German reunification. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, holding two parallel national book art competitions had become obsolete. Since 1991, the competition and exhibition »Best Book Design from all over the World« have been organized by Stiftung Buchkunst in Frankfurt/Leipzig. Today, only books that have already won prizes in national competitions are on display in Leipzig. All countries are able to present the current state of their book art through this independent selection of their "Best".

Nils Kahlefendt

2021 special edition in Frankfurt