All posts in Book Awards


Alcuin Society’s 35 Best-designed Canadian Books of 2016

March 23, 2017 – The Alcuin Society has announced the winners of its 35th annual competition, The Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held Saturday March 18th. Awards will be presented this fall in both Toronto and Vancouver. The winning books will be entered in the international book design competition in Leipzig, Germany in February 2018. They will be exhibited in Germany at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs; in Japan, at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, in conjunction with the Tokyo International Book Fair; and in almost every province of Canada. The venues will be listed on our web site.

This year’s judges, Robin Mitchell Cranfield, Judith Poirier, and Matt Warburton, selected 35 winning titles from 211 submissions, from 9 provinces and 93 publishers. Click through to see the full list of 2016 Winners.

The School of Sophisticated Drinking (Greystone, 2015)

Reading the Alcuin Winners: The School of Sophisticated Drinking

This post is the first in an occasional series that takes a deeper look at some of our Alcuin book design award winners. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I’ve come to depend on the Alcuin awards list as a dependable source of good books to read over the year.

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Judith Poirier: Type in Multiple Dimensions

By Marlene Chan

Judith Poirier has been selected as one of three judges for the upcoming competition of the Alcuin Society for Excellence in Book Design in Canada to be held in March 2017 for books published in 2016. She will deliver a public lecture in Vancouver about her work and working process, ‘Type in Multiple Dimensions’, on March 16th. Continue Reading…


Another Successful Alcuin Awards in Toronto

The Toronto edition of the Alcuin Awards was another smashing success this year. Held on October 6th, it attracted book arts professionals  and aficionados from near and far to the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.

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The exterior of the Arts and Letters Club, 14 Elm Street

Reserve your spot for the Toronto edition of the Alcuin Book Design Awards!

The Toronto award ceremony for the Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada will be held on October 3, 2016. The event will include a keynote talk by designer Michael Solomon, the presentation of the awards, and an excellent sit-down dinner. The event will open at 5:30 pm for a chance to view the award-winning books, and dinner will follow at 6:30 pm.

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Canadian book honoured at 2016 Leipzig competition


GUILLAUME LÉPINE, designer, La lecture des signes abstraits: une exploration visuelle, by Joséane Beaulieu-April. La chose imprimée (Montréal).

This book has an interesting background. Under the direction of Judith Poirier, a professor at Montreal’s Centre de dessin de l’ UQAM, and Angela Grauerholz, a project – La chose imprimée – was undertaken to “explore the book as a space of experimentation”. As is stated on their website, “The printed book, which was more than once questioned with the advent of multimedia, hypertext and e-book, is not only still present, but … has a real charm thanks to its physical and tactile qualities and the intimate relationship it establishes with the reader.” For the project, students were assigned to collaborate with representatives from various disciplines and the larger community, to create five books on related themes. This is one of those books, on the mechanics of reading and readability. You can find more about this project at their website.

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More Than Two (Let It Make Itself) by Micah Lexier

Canadian books praised in Leipzig in the Best Book Design from All Over the World

We are happy that once again Canadian book design is held in high regard internationally. Last year two Canadian books were shortlisted for the Best Book Design from All Over the World competition in Leipzig. This year, again two books have been shortlisted, and one won a Honorary Appreciation.

Every year the Alcuin Society sends the winners of the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada to compete with hundreds of books from around the globe in Leipzig. This year, the society has sent 37 books out the total of 585 entries submitted from 30 countries.

More Than Two (Let It Make Itself) by Micah Lexier and designed by Jeff Khonsary was awarded one of the five Honorary Appreciations. This is a catalogue of the author’s work, which pleasantly surprised the judges with its back story, concept and choice of colours.

More Than Two (Let It Make Itself) by Micah Lexier

More Than Two (Let It Make Itself) by Micah Lexier

The shortlisted books are With A Bao A Qu: Reading When Attitudes Become Form, by Maria Fusco and designed by Jeff Khonsary, and Résidus visuels, by Johanne Jarry, designed by Judith Poirier. The former examines contemporary art writing, shifting its focus from the conceptual towards its the more physical representation. The latter explores the boundary between those who can see and those who cannot, creating a tactile experience that uses a combination of Braille and latin alphabet.

With A Bao a Qu: Reading  When Attitudes Become Form, by Maria Fusco

With A Bao a Qu: Reading When Attitudes Become Form, by Maria Fusco

Résidus Visuels, by Johanne Jarry

Résidus Visuels, by Johanne Jarry

All the 37 books submitted by the Alcuin Society are donated to the German Book and Type Museum in Leipzig, where they will be available for consultation and exhibitions. The Society still accepts submissions for its design competition for books published in 2014 until March 27, 2015. Please review the information on our Apply page.


Penguin Random House Design Awards 2014

Penguin Random House invests in future book designers by organizing Design Awards for students, and each year they are asked to design covers for one adult and one children’s literature book. This year the chosen books were What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. The winner in the adult category was Ellen Rockell, who created a book cover that spelled out the name of the novel as a floor plan.


It was a risky design, as it could have affected the legibility of the title. What is more impressive is that Rockell did not just use computer software to design the cover, she actually built the whole thing and photographed it. Ellen’s Tumblr page offers some insights into her design process.


The Penguin website offers more information about the judges, prizes and winners in this category.

The second winner was Craig Cox, with a blood-spattered comb for The Outsiders. This is quite a tricky cover to design, so the judges may have had a hard time to single out a winner out of the shortlisted work.