Swedish Book Art was founded in 1933 and is today a non-profit association whose purpose is to stimulate and inspire increased quality in the production of books. To fulfill this ambition, 25 exemplary books are selected annually, thus pointing to good role models.
The books are selected by a jury of seven members who represent different parts of the book production: graphic design, publishing, printing, bookbinding, illustration, photography and authors. The jury's assignment states that it is the good everyday book as well as the innovative expressions that are to be highlighted. The assessment is based on the following six criteria:
- Typographic design
- Function in relation to production cost
- Durability, durability and environmental friendliness
- Degree of innovation
Among the nearly 300 entries submitted in Swedish Book Art 2020, there were particular tendencies towards experiments with the book format and color explosions in the inlay. But as usual, the variation is great, both among the contributions and the selected books.
Johanna Lewengard, chairman of the association, emphasizes the importance of the competition in highlighting all stages of book production and how all aspects of the book work together to convey the message:
"Swedish Book Art is the most important design award we have in Sweden. Partly because it shows how well-executed design is always a result of good cooperation in all stages of production, and partly because it draws attention to how rich and complex the book is as a medium for communication. As a book reader, we never just take part in a written text or reproduced image, we always read an innumerable amount of things through the book's form and material in a way we are often unaware of. Every year, the competition gives the industry an opportunity to pay attention and talk about these things ", says Johanna Lewengard.
The winners are announced at a prize gala at the Royal Library every year, when the books are also presented in a uniquely designed catalog. In the work on the 2020 catalog, the designer BankerWessel and the photographer Lina Löfström Baker have used marbled papers from N. Bernard Andersson's bookbinding/Nordiska Kompaniet (NK). The collection is available at the Royal Library. The bookbinder Bernard Andersson (1858–1924) worked with his own bookbindery from 1888 until 1917, when NK's bookbindery acquired his company. When NK closed down its producing workshops in 1963, the Royal Library acquired the bookbindery.