Independent publishers triumphed at the British Book Design & Production Awards last night (16th November), with 16 of the 18 prizes dispensed at the awards dinner, held at the Millenium Hotel in Mayfair, central London, going to indie publishers and small presses. The overall award, for Book of the Year, was won by Leslie Gerry Editions’ Havana, which also triumphed in the Photographic Books, Art & Architecture Monographs category. The former is contested by the winners of the other 17 awards given out on the night.
While a strong showing for smaller lists may have been anticipated, with many of the awards—including Self-Published Book, Digitally Printed Book, and Limited Edition & Fine Binding—being a more natural grazing ground for niche presses, the extent of independents’ dominance, pocketing more than five-sixths of the prizes on offer, arguably reflects a broadening of the publishing landscape. Many awards went to nascent lists that are design-led and prioritise the physical aspect of a publication, with high production values and offbeat formats.
Three such publishers: Owl & Dog Playbooks, which won the Children’s Trade: 0-8 Years category with The Adventures of 3 Bears, authored by the press’ co-founders Yeonju Yang and Claudio Ripol; Hoxton Mini Press, winner of the Brand/Series Identity field with its Tales from the City photobooks; and Little Island Press, which bagged the Literature award for its edition of Gordon Lish’s White Plains, epitomised such a shift towards design-centred presses on the night.
There were also triumphs for larger indies, with Thames & Hudson bagging two awards: the second kids’ category (9-16 Years) was won by Claudia Boldt and Eleanor Meredith’s Think and Make Like an Artist, while Lucinda Hawksley’s Bitten by Witch Fever won the Trade Illustrated prize. Walker Books picked up Educational Book with Richard Platt and James Brown’s A World of Information, while Scribe’s livery for Kayla Rae Whitaker’s The Animators secured the Best Jacket/Cover Design. The Folio Society—a three-time winner at last year’s awards, with the overall Book of the Year among that haul—had to settle for a sole triumph in 2017: the Scholarly, Academic & Reference gong went to Robert Hooke’s Micrographia.
Of the awards unlikely to be troubled by the big publishers, Anikst Design’s bilingual Kantor’s Gems took the Self-Published title; Hurtwood Press publication Taking Measure by Neil Folberg won the Digitally Printed prize; Exhibition Catalogues was won by Boss Print’s accompaniment to an exhibition by Maryam Eisler, Searching for Eve in the American West; and Winter, a lavish letterpress package designed and typeset by hand by Jamie Murphy for The Salvage Press, won Limited Edition & Fine Binding. Best Student Book went to Handy Tandra of the University of the West of England, for a visual monograph of rapper Kanye West’s output, titled Kanye—fitting for a musician many deride for his ego.
That’s not to say there were not big-brand triumphs: Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw’s Universal (Allen Lane) and Isabel Greenberg’s The One Hundred Nights of Hero (Cape) gave Penguin Random House a brace of awards, in the Lifestyle Illustrated and Graphic Novels sectors respectively.
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