Sunday, April 17, 2011

Canadian books recognized at 2011 Leipzig competition

Frankfurt, Germany – The Stiftung Buchkunst, based in Frankfurt, Germany, curators of the international exhibition "BEST BOOK DESIGN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD" at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs, selected the 2010 award-winners (for books published in 2009) in an international competition on February 4-5, 2011. The awards were presented at the Leipzig Book Fair in March, 2011.

The Stiftung has just released their short list of competitors for the awards, as well as their list of winners. Of 596 books submitted by 32 countries, 55 titles were shortlisted and 14 prizes were selected; two Canadian designers were honoured to have their books among the shortlisted titles. The Alcuin Society would again like to congratulate the designers and publishers of these books:

Jason Dewinetz, designer (Vernon, BC): This (and That was That) by JonArno Lawson. (Greenboathouse Books) 
Judith Poirier, designer (Montreal, QC): Dialogue by Judith Poirier. (Judith Poirier)

The 30 Canadian books on exhibit, which were participants in the international competition, were submitted by The Alcuin Society to the Stiftung. These books were the winners of the 2009 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held in April 2010. The collection has been donated to the German Book and Type Museum in Leipzig, where it will be available for consultation and exhibitions. The 37 winners of this year's Alcuin Society competition will be forwarded to the Stiftung later this Spring.

The complete short list of competitors and a list of winners have been posted on our site, and are also available at

Monday, April 04, 2011

A Tour of the Alcuin Awards Archives

With the announcement of the Alcuin Award winners for 2010 comes the challenge of getting the word out to the winners and the world at large. This starts with a large volume of phone calls on behalf of our awards ambassador, Leah Gordon, who also follows up with a press release that is emailed and posted to our website.

At this point, publishers, designers, and book stores are quick to highlight the awards to their customers, clients, and associates. Winners of the limited editions category have a particular quandary, as the award could come after all copies of the edition have already sold out. This was the case with this year's first prize winner, as The Play of Pericles by Barbarian Press promptly sold out before they even received their accolade.

Once the awards have been announced, the awards catalogue team kicks into high gear. Judges comments are transcribed, photographs are taken of each book, the design and layout of the catalogue takes place, and the entire publication is translated into French. The Alcuin Society has published all the winners in a separate printed awards publication since 1996. For the past two years, the catalog has run in full colour, thanks to the generosity of Alcuin Patron Yosef Wosk. These catalogues are a valuable resource for designers, publishers, collectors, and the general public alike.

The Alcuin Society book design competition was first held in 1981. Prior to the publication of a separate awards catalogue in 1996, the results were reported in Amphora. We have also had the award winners listed on our website dating back to 1996, but recently I dug deeper into the archives in order to feature electronic copies of the catalogues from the past. We have a very limited number of printed copies remaining for sale, but once they sell out, PDFs of the catalogues will remain an accessible resource.

I also overhauled the back catalogue of the award webpages themselves, expanding the LibraryThing widgets to include a widget for every single category for the years 2006-2008. The webpage for the year 2005 is a bit of an exception, as it already featured expanded images and text from the catalogue. Last year, for 2009, I included URL hyperlinks to the website closest to the publisher of the book, and this year for 2010, Alcuin member Phyllis Reeve volunteered to do the same (thanks, Phyllis!). In most cases, the links are still functional, though they may break in due time.

Currently, we have posted the following PDF catalogues to our website: 1998, 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2009, as well as text only PDFs from the years 2005 and 2006.

The year 2004 was the first year that a bilingual catalogue was published, and 2008 was the first year the catalogue was produced in full colour. While we await the production of the latest catalogue for the winning books from 2010, take a moment to look back on the catalogues from the past.