Designer Bookbinders UK Competition Becomes Biannual and Widens the Scope of the Admissible Projects

For more than 60 years, DB Annual UK Bookbinding Competition was encouraging bookbinders residing in the UK to challenge themselves in making better and more creative bindings. However, as it appears, the interest in the competition had steadily declined over the past few years. Designer Bookbinders decided to introduce some changes and make the competition into a biannual event. Below you will find a quote from the association’s website:

The competition was originally established in 1955 ‘to encourage students, craftsmen and apprentices of bookbinding to produce originally designed and well bound books and to give them the opportunity to exhibit their technical and artistic skills’. It has acted as a stepping stone for many of the country’s finest contemporary bookbinders and is a tried and tested route for promotion to Licentiate and Fellowship of Designer Bookbinders.

However, we have noticed declining figures in recent years and can only attribute this to the current lack of bookbinding courses nationwide. We are passionate about encouraging the next generation of bookbinders and so are keen to open the competition out to all those studying or working in the fields of Bookbinding, Book Arts, Printmaking, 3D Craft, Design or other associated disciplines.

The primary remaining condition is that the participant has to be a UK resident at the moment of binding the book. While there would be prizes for traditional binding techniques including leather work, gold tooling, etc., the term “book” is now treated much more loosely. New awards will be added to encourage experimentation and the use of new materials and techniques. Of course, the high level of craftsmanship remains as one of the conditions that would allow participants to pretend for a prize. As well as the condition of the set book to be still recognizable after all the transformations performed by the participant.

The set book for the DB UK Competition 2020 is ‘Of Mice and Men‘ by John Steinbeck. Sheets published by The Folio Society. 112 pages. Frontispiece, color illustrations, including two double-page spreads, and six black & white integrated illustrations. 228 x 146 mm.

The entry fee for the set book is £30 for non-members of Designer Bookbinders and £25 for members. You may also include up to three Open Choice books at £15 each. DB Fellows are as usual excluded from the competition, along with non-residents of the UK.


  • Registration opened since July 2019
  • First participants should have received the sheets after mid-August 2019
  • Entry forms emailed – beginning October 2020
  • Hand-in deadline – Saturday 17th October 2020
  • Judging – Wednesday 21st October 2020
  • Prize Giving – Thursday 19th November 2020
  • Exhibition – 20th November-6th December 2020
  • National touring exhibition – early 2021

More Information

Please Support us on Patreon!

The minimum level of contribution is only $1 per month. Pledges received from our patrons cover the editing services for our bookish podcast!

Moreover, starting with the pledge level of $3, you will get a digitized vintage book about bookbinding, book history, or book arts each month from us!

These pledges help iBookBinding to continue its work and bring more information about bookbinding and book arts to you!