Events  |  International Competition



About the Competition

Since the International Bookbinding Competition started in 1999 it has developed into one the most successful regular exhibitions of the craft. Its success has been in the variety of work which is represented, with fine binding sitting happily alongside restoration and book-arts.

The Competition runs in conjunction with the Society’s biennial Conference, and attracts around one hundred entries from countries all around the world. This year there will be fifteen prizes awarded over five categories as well as prizes for forwarding, finishing and design. 2015 saw the introduction of the exhibition catalogue which includes colour images of every book entered. This was a great success so catalogues will be available again in 2017 and each entrant will receive a copy.

The winning entries will be announced at the Society’s Conference held at Keele University on 3-6th Aug 2017. Awards will be presented on the first evening of the conference. All entries will be exhibited at the Conference for the duration, after which the winning bindings will be exhibited at Shepherds, London and George Bayntun’s Bookshop, Bath. Dates for these venues will be advertised here at a later date.

Entrants should register before 12th May 2017 by completing a registration form which can be found here. The period for submission of bindings is 5th - 10th June 2017.

Entrants submitting work to the competition do so in the knowledge that if their work is selected for an award, it will be retained by the Society for the touring exhibition and will only be returned following the final venue. Photographs of winning books and all entries will be taken for use on Competition promotional material. Full entry details and instructions for delivering your books will be sent out with acknowledgement of registration.

Please do not send books until you have registered!

For all enquiries please contact competition organisers Mylyn McColl and Marie Doinne.

View / download registration form (PDF)

View / download the Competition promotional leaflet (PDF)


Category A:  Fine Binding
Entries in this category should be a binding of a contemporary nature in a codex form displaying an excellent standard of craftsmanship, along with an outstanding overall concept and design. Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills; and use of materials.

Category B:  The Complete Book
Both the content and the binding should be designed and executed by the entrant. Work in this category encompasses both artists’ books and traditional bindings, and need not be in codex format. Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the content of the book; the binding; craft skills; and use of materials.

Category C:  Case Binding
Entries in this category must incorporate book cloth and be of a case bound structure, i.e. the book made in two parts; the cover made separately from the text-block and joined by attaching the end papers to the cover boards. Entries will be judged on the quality of the concept and design; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills; and use of materials.

Category D:  Restoration
Any binding repaired in a way that returns the book to a former or original condition. Entries will be judged on the suitability of the repairs; the aesthetic of the restored book; craft skills; documentation; and materials used. Entries must be submitted with photographic documentation prior to restoration, along with a full written record of all work undertaken.

Category E:  Historic Binding
Entries should be a high quality binding of a traditional nature. Bindings can display an element of creativity, but must show excellent re-creation of a period of binding or historical structure, as well as a high standard of craftsmanship. Entries will be judged on the faithfulness of reproduction; the forwarding; finishing; craft skills and suitability of materials.

View / download registration form (PDF)

View / download the Competition promotional leaflet (PDF)

Estimated prize fund of £7000

Fine Binding
First Prize - Shepherds Bookbinders Ltd (The John Coleman Trophy) Value: £900
Second Prize Value: £350
Third Prize Value: £250

The Complete Book
First Prize - The Portnall Award Value: £900
Second Prize Value: £350

Case Binding
First Prize - The F.J. Ratchford Trophy Value: £900

First Prize - The Bernard Middleton Trophy Value: £900

Historic Binding
First Prize - The ABA Educational Trust Value: £900

The Wyvern Bindery Award for Best Newcomer Value: £500
People’s Choice Award Value: £250
Fine Cut International Award for Finishing Value: £150
Harmatan Leather Award for Finishing Value: £150
Incline Press - Dave Godin Memorial Award for Animal Free Binding Value:£250
J Hewit & Sons Award for Excellence in Design Value: £175
J Hewit & Sons Award for Excellence in Craftsmanship Value: £175

View / download registration form (PDF)

View / download the Competition promotional leaflet (PDF)

Competition Rules

  • The Competition is open to anyone except the judges and organisers.
  • The winning books will be decided at the discretion of the three judges only.
  • Entries must not have been submitted in, or have any known association with, any other bookbinding competition.
  • The final day for submission of entries will be 10th June 2017.
  • More than one entry is permissible. Fees for entry are £55 for the first book and £30 for subsequent entries. The entry fee includes one catalogue per person.
  • All work submitted must have been completed within the 2 years prior to submission.
  • Work done by other hands is acceptable but must be declared.
  • A completed entry form must accompany each entry.
  • Your name must not appear on any part of your work.
  • A newcomer is defined as a person who has, within the last three years, started learning bookbinding/restoration/book-arts from scratch, and has not yet entered another competition.
  • All costs for delivery and return of entries must be borne by the entrant.
  • Work must be submitted in a protective box or case, which will be used for its return.
  • Prizes take the form of cash, goods, and vouchers; and are subject to variation at the discretion of the organisers.
  • The Society will take care to keep entries safe; however, all work is submitted at the entrant’s own risk. Entrants are advised to insure their bindings as the Society does not accept responsibility for loss or damage incurred during the competition or subsequent exhibitions.

View / download registration form (PDF)

View / download the Competition promotional leaflet (PDF)

Sponsorship gratefully received to date:

The ABA Educational Trust
Abby Schoolman Books
ABS Supplies
Bookbinding Supplies
Medium Finishing Press
Brown, Mr and Mrs
Conservation by Design Limited
Duke, Maureen
FiberMark Red Bridge International Ltd
Fine Cut Graphic Imaging Ltd
George Bayntun Booksellers
Griffen Mill
Gwasg Gregynog Press
Habberley Meadows
Harmatan & Oakridge Leather 2008 Ltd
Hewit, J and Sons Ltd
Incline Press
Inky Parrot Press
Jemma Lewis Marbling and Design
John Purcell Papers
JVO Papers
Leather Conservation Centre

London Centre for Book Arts
Louise Brockman Marble Paper
Ludlow Bookbinders Ltd
Nye, David and Maureen
Old School Press
Old Stile Press
P & S Engraving
Payhembury Papers
Ratchford, F J , Ltd
Russells Fine Leather
Shepherds Bookbinders Ltd
Sophie Schneideman
Stationers’ Company
Mr Stuart Southall
The Whittington Press
William Cowley Parchment and Vellum
Winter and Co
The Wyvern Bindery
Zachs, Dr William     

… And many kind anonymous donors