DB UK Bookbinding Competition

The Designer Bookbinders UK Bookbinding Competition was 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” but we really want to encourage anyone who loves making books to enter. The only criteria to entry are that you are resident in the UK when the book was bound and that you are not a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders.

All entrants must bind the Set Book and may also enter up to three Open Choice books. The form of the book can be quite loose – design bindings, cloth bindings, paper bindings, artists’ books and book objects are all admissible. We recognise that, with so many bookbinding courses closing, it is harder to study bookbinding at a more advanced level and so we have expanded the prizes to include paper, non-leather, artistic innovation, student and newcomer, as well as prizes for the more traditional fine binding techniques. It is of paramount importance, though, that we still recognise and reward the highest standards of craftsmanship alongside good design, handling of materials and sympathetic interpretation of the text.

We do our utmost to keep the entry fee as low as possible to encourage all. Not only is this an exciting opportunity to exhibit in a central London venue, but there is also the possibility to get valuable feedback from Designer Bookbinders Fellows, the chance to win many glittering prizes, including the coveted Mansfield medal, and a step onto or along a fulfilling career path in bookbinding. Many fine bookbinders have been discovered as a result of winning prizes at the Competition and have gone on to apply for Licentiateship and Fellowship within the society.

The competition is sponsored by The Folio Society and we are exceptionally grateful to them and all the prize sponsors for their continuing support.

For enquiries about the 2023 competition please contact

(Above image: Love Poems © The Folio Society, 2022)


The set book for 2023 is Love Poems edited by Imtiaz Dharker. With illustrations by Mikki Lee. Published by The Folio Society.
264 pages. 8 integrated colour illustrations. 246 x 170mm trimmed page size, 25mm spine width.

Romantic, passionate, unrequited, lost and embittered: odes to the infinite expressions of love are collected in Love Poems; a unique Folio Society edition collated by the ‘world poet laureate’ Imtiaz Dharker. For this exclusive new Folio Society anthology of more than 150 poems, Dharker researched and collected the work of ancient and contemporary voices from around the world, both widely and lesser known.

Traversing culture, language and time, Love Poems is a wonderfully eclectic selection of emotive human responses to love through the medium of poetry, from Rumi, Shakespeare and Christina Rosetti to Philip Larkin, Michael Ondaatje and Carol Ann Duffy. Dharker has skilfully woven a narrative through her selection, with poems loosely grouped around themes rather than arranged according to geography or timeline. The ebb and flow of style, length, era and language is refreshing and fluid, as love is portrayed in myriad ways.

Korean-American illustrator and designer Mikki Lee celebrates the cultural diversity of the collection through a series of highly stylised and dreamlike artworks. From tempestuous and passionate to subtle and pensive, the wide-ranging voices and experiences in Love Poems will resonate with readers of all ages.

Credit: Illustration © Mikki Lee 2022 from The Folio Society edition of Love Poems, selected and introduced by Imtiaz Dharker, available exclusively at

In order to register for the competition and to obtain a set of unbound sheets for the set book please click on the Payment and Registration button below. The cost of registering is £30, payments can be made by Paypal or BACS. If you wish to pay by other methods please contact the Competition Organisers.

The set book will then be mailed out to the address provided. All entrants must bind the set book. There is also an open choice category which can be entered. Entry forms which will be emailed to all entrants nearer the hand in deadline. The charge for open choice is £15 per entry.

Provisional Timeline:

Open for registration – April 2022
Sheets will be sent out from April 2022
Entry forms emailed – beginning October 2023
Hand in deadline – Saturday 14th October 2023
Judging – Wednesday 18th October 2023
Prize Giving – Wednesday 22nd November 2023
Exhibition – 23rd November – 9th December 2023

Please note these dates are currently for guidance only and may be subject to change.

DBUK 2023 Prizewinners