The Alcuin Society

Welcome to the Book Design Awards

Since 1981 the Alcuin Society has sponsored the only national competition for book design in Canada. Each year, a call for entries is sent out. Books published in Canada during the calendar year of competition are eligible for submission. Each title must represent the exclusive work of a Canadian book designer.

The judging of the entries takes place the following year in the spring, and the award winning books are posted to our website, showcased in an awards catalogue produced by the Alcuin Society, and exhibited nationally and internationally. After the exhibitions, books have been contributed to various prestigious permanent collections in Canada, Germany, and Japan.

Prior to 1996, the results of judging were reported in our publication Amphora, after which publication of a separate awards catalogue began. Each awards catalogue features publication details and images of each winning book, and also includes comments about the books from the judges. Since 2004, the catalogue has been published in English and French, and since 2007, the catalogue has featured a foreword from the Governor General of Canada. A select number of these catalogues are posted below in PDF format. The years displayed below refer to the calendar year of the winning publications; the catalogues themselves are produced in the following year (ie: the 2010 catalogue below was published in the summer of 2011.)

1998 Awards Catalogue 2000 Awards Catalogue 2004 Awards Catalogue
1998 2000 2004
2007 Awards Catalogue 2009 Awards Catalogue
2007 2009 2010

The Alcuin Society is proud to participate in the celebration of excellence in Canadian book design, the recognition of achievement of the designers, and the promotion of both books and culture.

Please contact Leah Gordon, Alcuin Society Design Competition Committee Chair,, 604.732-5403.

Book Design Awards 2013

The Alcuin Society's 32nd Annual Awards
for Excellence in Book Design in Canada

Entry Form

Formulaire d'inscription & appel à participation

Entry Conditions

Eligibility criteria

Books published in Canada during the year 2013 are eligible for submission. Canadian editions, co-editions and simultaneous editions are eligible; however, they must be designed and published in Canada in their entirety to be accepted in the competition. Design students are encouraged to participate.


  • Children's
  • Limited editions
  • Pictorial, including exhibition catalogues
  • Poetry
  • Prose: fiction
  • Prose: non-fiction
  • Prose: non-fiction – illustrated
  • Reference, including how-to, DIY, cooking, travel


Susan Colberg

Susan Colberg
Associate Professor, Visual Communication Design
University of Alberta,


Cartoonist, Designer, Collector (Drawn & Quarterly)
Guelph, Ontario

Jessica Sullivan

Jessica Sullivan
Designer, Art Director
(Jessica Sullivan Design)
Vancouver, British Columbia


Judging Process

Each book should be assigned to one of the above categories by the publisher. However, either the Society's Awards Committee or the judges may move a title from one category to another if, in their opinion, the book's content and design warrant it.

General criteria

Judging is based on the suitability of design concept in relation to the intellectual nature of the content and the intended audiences. Use of colour, type, illustration and photographic styles when applicable are also considered. The stock used in the text block, as well as the jacket, binding, and overall finish are judged in the context of the book's purpose.

Conflict of interest

If a judge has participated in the production of a book, that book should not be submitted as an entry in the current competition, but instead may be entered in the following year. Otherwise all entries must have been published in the previous calendar year to be eligible.


At the discretion of the judges, first, second, and third prizes
may be awarded in each category; ties are permitted; honourable mentions may also be awarded. A book cited for honourable mention exhibits some noteworthy feature(s) that place it, in the view of the judges, above the rest. However, the book may, as a whole, fail to sustain comparison with prize-winners in the category.

Winners will be notified as soon as possible after judging, by telephone or email, and a list of winning books will be posted on the Alcuin Society web site. Winners will be asked to provide high-resolution digital images of the cover, and spreads of their choice, in PDF form, for inclusion in the catalogue. Citations will be presented at appropriate awards ceremonies. Award winners will benefit from national and international exposure through news media, exhibitions and the Awards Catalogue, which may be viewed on the Society's web site.


Various national locations have been scheduled for exhibitions of the winning books; last year the books were exhibited in several Canadian venues. The news media will announce the winning entries. Winning books will be displayed in October at the Book Art International Exhibit at the Frankfurt Bookfair and in March of the following year at the Leipzig Bookfair. Winning books, possibly excepting limited editions, will be Canada's official entries in the February international book design competition in Leipzig: Best Book Design from all over the World. Publishers of winning entries will be requested to submit additional copies to allow for international exhibition commitments.

All books exhibited will be contributed to the permanent collections of the Deutsches Buch-Schriftmuseum in Leipzig (part of the National Library of Germany), the Special Collections and Rare Books Division of W.A.C. Bennett Library, Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC), and the E.H. Norman Library, Canadian Embassy (Tokyo, Japan).

Entry Form

Formulaire d'inscription & appel à participation