COMPETITIONS

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 2025 competition please contact thebookbindingcompetition@designerbookbinders.org.uk

(Above image credit: Illustrations © Alison Bryant 2023 from The Folio Society edition of Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones)

2025

We are delighted to announce the launch of the dbUK Bookbinding Competition 2025.

The dbUK Bookbinding 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.’

We are encouraging bookbinders, book artists and anyone with an interest in designing and making books to take part. 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.

We are very grateful to The Folio Society, and all the prize sponsors, for their continued support. Without them this competition simply could not happen.

Thank you.
Eri Funazaki, Kaori Maki and Ethel Mercedes
The dbUK Bookbinding Competition Committee

The set book for 2025 is Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones with illustrations by Alison Bryant. Introduced by Katherine Rundell and with a foreword by Neil Gaiman. Published by The Folio Society.

272 pages, 6 colour illustrations, 222mm x 156mm trimmed page size, 22mm spine width.

The first volume of the bewitching ‘Chrestomanci’ series by Diana Wynne Jones, Charmed Life arrives in an explosion of magic in this edition illustrated by Alison Bryant and introduced by Katherine Rundell.

A magical school, parallel universes and nine lives hidden in the most unlikely of places. Welcome to the many worlds of ‘Chrestomanci’, where nothing is quite as it seems. Charmed Life is an anarchic, hilarious tale of magic and mayhem from the fairy godmother of children’s literature, Diana Wynne Jones. For this special edition of a British fantasy classic, artist Alison Bryant has created six exuberant and witty illustrations that bring the magic of Jones’s most celebrated series to life. Every image is awash with colour and character, from freshly summoned giant frogs to Gwendoline’s delightfully disdainful face – and of course Chrestomanci himself, resplendent in a variety of unlikely dressing gowns. This edition also includes two delightful short stories from the world of ‘Chrestomanci’, ‘Warlock at the Wheel’ and ‘The Sage of Theare’. Katherine Rundell, the award-winning author of the modern children’s adventure classic Rooftoppers, has written a new introduction exclusively for this Folio edition, in which she calls Charmed Life ‘one of the finest children’s books ever written’.

Credit: Illustrations © Alison Bryant 2023 from The Folio Society edition of Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones.
Available exclusively at The Folio Society.

To enter the competition, you must first purchase a copy of the 2025 set book, which will be available to purchase through our website at the start of April. The book will be sent to you in printed and folded sections ready to bind. All entrants must bind the set book but you may use a traditional book structure or adopt a more experimental approach. Entry forms which will be emailed to all entrants nearer the hand in deadline.

The cost of the set book is £25 for members and £40 for non-members to include postage, packing and entrance fee. You may also enter up to three Open Choice entries at £20 each.

Provisional Timeline:

  • Open for registration from now
  • Sheets sent out from April 2024
  • Entry forms emailed 2 weeks prior to hand-in date
  • Hand-in deadline Early October 2025
  • Judging Mid-October 2025
  • Prize-giving/Exhibition November 2025

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

DBUK 2023 Prizewinners