What does a beautiful book mean in this contemporary era? This issue of GRAPHIC features the best book competitions mostly in Europe. Through the interviews with the members of committee/jury and the designers' comments on the winning books, this issue is looking for the meaning of beautiful book.

This issue of GRAPHIC covers best book competitions that judge the “beauty” of the contending books. A total of eight competitions or events are included: national competitions (from the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Sweden as well as the best-known one, The Most Beautiful Swiss Books) that reflect the book culture of their respective countries; Best Book Design From All Over the World held in Germany, which is the most representative international competition; Walter Tiemann Prize which is a unique competition focusing on typography; and Beautiful Books in Korea, which was held for the first time to select Korean books with good design.

As the titles suggest, the purpose of these competitions is to select the most beautiful books from each country. This means we can look at current trends in book design by examining them, which is the starting point of this issue. We hope the biggest benefit is that it provides a comprehensive overview of the criteria of a “beautiful” book sought by each competition.

The key sentence that penetrates the theme of this issue should be “What does a beautiful book mean to you?”, which is the question we presented to every interviewee. Of course, the intention was not to get the best answer but to collect various ideas on the qualities of a “beautiful book” from this ambiguous question. This question is also directed at ourselves and our readers, with the goal of prompting renewed reflection on book design by reading the answers and asking ourselves the same question at the same time.

Every text (such as interviews or comments from juries and designers) is, in fact, linked to this question. While the interviews with the organizers of the competition explain the unique cultural background of selecting “beautiful books,” the jury’s commentaries provide aesthetic justifications for it by summarizing why a particular book is beautiful. The comments from the designers strenuously reflect current trends, which equate the design process to book design itself.

It was only with the generous cooperation from the organizers and jurors of the competitions and the designers that this issue of GRAPHIC could be published. We would like to convey our sincere gratitude to every contributor.


Anisha Imhasly
Arina Stoenescu
Cornel Windlin
Etienne Robial
Greger Bergvall
Julia Blume
Julien Magnani
Just Enschedé
Konstanze Berner
Lim Kyungyong
Pierre Huyghebaert
Uta Schneider
Vanessa van Dam