We've all known for long that the mid-90s mantra Print Is Dead is rubbish. And despite the increase in, and improved quality of online typography, the tactile experience of holding a book in one's hands and examining sharply printed type still is unequalled in digital media. This is why every year Unzipped publishes the winners of Belgium's Plantin Moretus Awards (this year's edition coming soon), and the FontFeed also keeps an eye on international book design competitions. Tuesday the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), Oxford Brookes University, and The Publishers Association announced the winners of the British Book Design and Production Awards 2010. The award for the highly acclaimed Book of the Year this year went to Britain by Bike, a truly outstanding book, published by Anova Books.
In total this year there were 16 awards categories, which each saw a high calibre of quality entrants. The categories included Limited Edition and Fine Binding, Literature and Children's Trade, and also a new category this year called Lifestyle Illustrated.
The awards, attracting a record 430 entries this year, represent the rich diversity and high quality of British book design and production capabilities in the publishing sector. A five-strong panel consisting of industry experts from the design, publishing and production industries met over two days at Oxford Brookes University to select the shortlisted entries and winners. One thing that bothers me is that only the publishers are credited in the list of winners, not the designers of the books.
BPIF Chief Executive Michael Johnson stated:
The quality of the awards this year was of extremely quality and we were delighted with the fantastic amount of entries and the brilliant high production standards. The high quality work by the entrants meant that the judges had a tougher choice than ever in deciding on the final list. The awards ceremony was a highly memorable night and it was wonderful to see the creativity of the entrants being rewarded. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners on their success.
Brand / Series Identity
The Unauthorised Guide to Doing Business
Designed by Grace O'Byrne
Brand identity is strong and carried seamlessly starting from the cover layout. If you were to see these books on a shelf there would be no question on the fact this is a series. Each book was well designed and tailored to represent the identified business person with creative symbols carried throughout.
The faces on these almost entirely typographic covers are somewhat of a mystery. I'd have expected them to be H&FJ Knockout, Rhode, Titling Gothic, Bureau Grot, or a similar wood type inspired family with lots of weights and widths, but none of the usual suspects match. The authors' names are set in Caslon 540 Italic.
Limited Edition and Fine Binding
The White Queen
Designed by Liane Payne & M Rules
Simon & Schuster
This book is an example of fine binding in the truly classical sense. The case is beautifully foil blocked and the raised bands on the spine invoke images of an earlier age. The final bind quality achieved is exquisite with the use of head and tail bands and marker ribbon all working together to enhance this. The antique effect is completed by the untrimmed foredge and tail of the book which again reinforces the feel of a true craft product.
Fittingly for this bibliophile edition the uncial book title seems be hand lettered; the author is set in ITC Golden Cockerel Initials, which is based on designs created by Eric Gill in 1929 for the Golden Cockerel Press in England.
Digitally Printed Books
Designed by the Studio of Fernando Gutierrez
This limited edition entry really stands out even before you look inside, physically big at almost A3 and quarter bound cased it certainly catches your eye. Once in your hands you see stunning lithographic quality printing on beautiful Mohawk 148 gsm paper which truly emphasises Monet's work. Superb.
Thanks to P22 one can now set text in the personal handwriting of famous painters, amongst others Monet, Gauguin, and the wildly popular Cézanne. The name of the Helly Nahmad Gallery is set in one of these very wide wood type slab serifs.
How to Make and Use Compost: The Ultimate Guide
Designed by Stephen Prior
Not a lot of entries this year but yet again Green Books live up to their fantastic environmental credentials – text paper made from 100% recycled post consumer waste, covers 75% recycled, printed in the UK using vegetable inks and the subject matter continues the green theme and is presented in a clear and informative style. Keep up the good work!
A rather conventional typeface for a rather conventional book cover. The original digital Palatino was reworked four years ago into Palatino Nova, with the addition of Sans and Informal companions.
Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man
Designed by John Hubbard
Royal Collection Publications
The Royal Collection Publications has done a great job presenting the artist's investigations into the human body. Stunning reproduction, good printing on quality paper, fine binding and a wonderful French fold jacket combine to make a very worthy winner, well done.
One of the seminal typefaces that launched the new wave of Dutch designers in the nineties, Fred Smeijers' original serif face FF Quadraat was subsequently expanded into a versatile super family. Smeijers went on to found the high quality yet affordable type foundry OurType with partners Corina Cotorobai and Rudy Geeraerts.
Photographic Books, Art / Architecture Monographs
Voices of the Vivarais
Designed by Phil Cleaver, et al design consultants
et al Design Consultants
A terrific production in every sense; superbly printed and bound on well chosen materials, particularly the ivory text paper; gilt edges and a wonderful printed slip case complete a class package.
The flat top of the A and the extending leg on the R are unmistakable – this is a version of Bembo, the classic Renaissance face based on the work of Francsco Griffo, punchcutter for the Venetian press of humanist printer Aldus Manutius. It was first used in February 1496 (1495 more veneto), in the setting of a book entitled Petri Bembi de Aetna Angelum Chalabrilem liber, a 60-page text about a journey to Mount Aetna written by the young Italian humanist poet Pietro Bembo, later a Cardinal and secretary to Pope Leo X.
Twiggy: A Life in Photographs
Designed by Mike Dempsey, Studio Dempsey
National Portrait Gallery
This book is a stunning collection of photographs of one of the great British icons of the last few decades. The photographic portraits are particularly impressive and are printed to an extremely high standard. The book has been well finished and the use of gloss lamination on the printed paper case is an interesting contrast to the matt lamination used on the dust jacket.
The multi-coloured grotesque caps are not Helvetica as some might think, but Basic Commercial\Standard (Akzidenz-Grotesk), the original model on which the ubiquitous sans serif tried to improve. For an even more vintage look try Christian Schwartz's FF Bau.
Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian
Designed by Andrew Barron. Cover by James Annal
The re-issue of this classic cookery book is a thing of beauty. The layout and design, the use of subtle colour throughout to distinguish chapters makes the photographs pop out. The production results breathe new life into an old classic.
Mrs Eaves is a peculiar typeface – this interpretation of Baskerville's types by digital type design pioneer Zuzana Licko has the low x-height and impressive array of ligatures of a titling face, but the loose spacing and large, solid serifs a small text design. It may very well owe its continuing success to its idiosyncratic design. Not only has the family recently acquired two sans counterparts – Mr Eaves Sans and Mr Eaves Modern – but also XL variants with larger x-height for all three members of the type family. About the latter I can be brief: I don't like them; they look pretty awkward to me.
Designed by Norman Tuttle
This book has a beautifully designed cover with the use of the jacket to impart a multidimensional feel. The design, layout and materials used in the book were all high quality and certainly worthy of a special place on your bookshelf.
Another instance of Basic Commercial\Standard (Akzidenz-Grotesk). I am not entirely convinced this is the right solution for this design. Setting the type vertically beautifully suits the oriental atmosphere, but personally I would've picked a monospaced design to have all the characters perfectly line up on top of each other.
Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education
The Fundamentals of Marketing
Designed by Roger Fawcett-Tang, Struktur Design
A strong use of colour and typography allowed for easy navigation of content and key information was clearly highlighted. The overall print and production of the book was to a very high standard. Nicely done!
This mix of strict geometric structure and loosely sketched background calls for the serene and rational letter shapes of Serifa, the classic slab serif by type design legend Adrian Frutiger.
Scholarly, Academic and Reference Books
Collins Flower Guide
Designed by Martin Brown. Cover by Heike Schuessler
This book is a masterful reference work and is strikingly displayed within its slip case. The content of the book has a very clear design and layout, it is very well printed with each item concisely displayed and described. The finish of the book is completed by the use of quarter binding with the attractively illustrated printed sides. This is a reference work to be proud of!
Call me old fashioned, but I would have coupled Perpetua with Gill Sans. One rationale for combining type is to pick faces by the same designer, in this case Eric Gill. Besides being overused, to me Trajan looks a little inappropriate in this context.
The Heart and the Bottle
Designed by James Stevens
HarperCollins Children's Books
This was the overwhelming favourite of judges in this category. The beautiful layout, pictures and design all come together to help tell a lovely story. Beauty was in the simplicity as the cover grabbed you and the story moved you.
This beautifully naive hand lettering is the perfect solution for this children's book.
Best Jacket / Cover Design
The Flavour Thesaurus
Designed by Pete Dawson, Grade Design
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
A very well thought out concept with a simple yet intriguing design. Complemented by excellent use of typography and colour, the print finish was superb.
One of the more surprising things I learnt at a conference was during ATypI St-Petersburg 2008. He explained that the 16th century specimens from the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp Plantin was modelled after had an incorrect "a". This exceptionally legible and sturdy typeface makes a classic, elegant impression.
Best Student Book
An Anthology of Fairy Tales On The Theme of The Wicked Stepmother
Designed by Louise Evans
The quality and number of entries saw a marked improvement on last year and there was real strength in depth within this category. The winning book was beautifully produced with excellent typography throughout. The choice of paper stock, use of imagery and attention to detail have resulted in a truly stunning book.
This book cover reminds me of eclectic wood type posters, with a three-dimensional compressed didone, decorative wood type, and Bembo caps.
Best British Book
Britain by Bike
Designed by Gemma Wilson
On a subject that could very easily produce a dry book, the publisher have produced a fantastic little gem that would grab the attention of even a non cyclist. Nostalgic in feel yet thoroughly modern and useable, printed on quality paper it is a great little package!
Book of the Year
Deserved winner of winners but a tough category for the judges to call, ultimately the judges debated two titles at length and Britain by Bike won the day for its overall presentation and glorious feel good factor. A great choice of materials plus imagery coupled with high quality print and binding that simply demands attention.