Design Awards

Washington Publishers 2018 Book Design and Effectiveness Awards

Join us on Monday, December 3rd, for the Washington Publishers holiday party to celebrate the winners of the 33rd Annual Book Design and Effectiveness Competition! Take a moment to celebrate another year of excellence in book and publication design, connect with other WP members, and enjoy delicious food and drink from Busboys and Poets.

Monday, December 3, 2018
Reception at 6pm
Busboys and Poets, 450 K Street NW
(across the street from the previous Mt. Vernon Square location)
You can RSVP and purchase tickets here

Please feel free to invite your friends and colleagues to this festive holiday gathering—admission is only $15—just include the names of your guests when you RSVP.

Call for Entries
Now in its 33rd year, the Washington Publishers Book Design and Effectiveness Competition recognizes, celebrates, and encourages excellence in bookmaking across the greater Washington, DC, book publishing community. The competition’s judges evaluate the excellence of each book’s design and effectiveness in achieving its publisher’s goals, meeting its readers’ needs, and reaching its target market. Prizes are awarded in 15 categories, seven designs for each of the two publisher categories — plus best of show.

Who Can Enter?
Anyone affiliated with the production and publication of a qualifying book may submit an entry. Submitted books, whether priced or disseminated for free, must meet the following criteria:

  • The publisher must be located in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia
  • Entries must be copyrighted by or carry the ISBN/ISSN of an eligible publisher
  • Books must have a spine (entries to the Ebook Cover category are exempt)
  • Entries must have been published between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018
  • Entry forms must be received electronically by August 10, 2018
  • Entry copies must be received by August 14, 2018
  • Entry fees must be paid online or via check by August 16, 2018

Publisher Categories
Books will compete against others within the same category of publisher. The publisher categories are:

  • Commercial publisher
  • Non-profit publisher

Co-published volumes will be judged in the commercial category if any of the co-publishers is commercial. A non-profit publisher may include membership and trade associations, university presses, branches of federal or state government, IGOs, and policy and research organizations.

Design Categories
Awards are given to books that are exemplary in the execution of their text and cover designs in each of the publisher categories. In addition, one book—judged to have the best overall design and effectiveness—will be awarded Best of Show. Books may be entered under any of the following seven design categories:

  1. Illustrated Text: Illustrations (such as photographs, line drawings, and maps) drive the design of these books. Examples include (but are not limited to) art, museum, pictorial history books, and illustrated reports.
  2. Typographic Text: Typography (the effective use of type) drives the design of these books, which may include a signature of illustrations. Examples include (but are not limited to) biography, fiction, history, popular science and social science books.
  3. Technical Text: Typography and the presentation of data (in figures, tables, graphs, charts, photographs, and line drawings) drive the design of these books. Examples include (but are not limited to) scientific, technical and medical books.
  4. Illustrated Jacket or Cover: In this category, illustrations drive award-winning jackets and covers. Photographs, images, and illustrations should dominate the design.
  5. Typographic Jacket or Cover: In this category, typographic treatment of words drives award-winning jackets and covers. A textured background or thumbnail image may be present, but words in type should dominate the design.
  6. Journal Cover: In this category, both illustrated and typographic journal issue covers will be considered. Please submit two back issues along with the issue you are entering into the Design Awards.
  7. Ebook Cover: In this category, both illustrated and typographic covers for ebooks will be considered. This is an ebook-only category, and the content should not also be available in print.

Fine Print
Washington Publishers is not responsible for delayed or lost mail. Overpayments will be refunded at the conclusion of the competition. Books for which the entry fee of $40 have not been paid by August 16 will be removed from the competition. Entry fees are non-refundable unless entries are disqualified. Books will not be returned.

Entries should be mailed to:
Eleanor O’Connor
c/o Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Ebook cover images should be submitted to

All entries received will be confirmed via email.

About the Judging
Four judges, with extensive experience in publishing and bookselling will review the entries and may select first, second, and third place winners in each of the 14 categories, as well as the Best of Show. Depending on the merit of the entries, the judges may also award honorable mentions or may elect not to award prizes in a category.

All judges’ decisions are final. Judges with any potential conflict of interest related to the entries in a category will excuse themselves from voting on that category. If a publisher enters a book in an incorrect publisher or design category, WP reserves the right to reassign the entry to the correct category. WP’s decision in such cases will be final. Books not published between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018 will be removed from the competition. Please note that books published on or after July 1, 2018 may be entered in next year’s competition.

Please note: After the judging, a pdf or tiff file will be requested from the awardees to prepare a slide show and website of winning entries.

WP reserves the right to publish the names of winning publishers, individuals, and books, as well as photographs of said individuals and books.

About the Awards Ceremony
The Design Awards winners will be announced at a reception and ceremony that will be held in late September. The exact date and location will be announced shortly.

The event will feature an interactive forum with the judges, the designers, and editors of winning entries, and the audience. All books submitted to the competition will be on display, with the winning entries shown prominently. After the ceremony, books entered in the competition will be donated to Carpe Librum Bookstore/Turn the Page DC.

Tickets for the event may be purchased at the door. We can accept cash, credit, or check. Look for invitations in your email this summer.

Email the WP inbox

About the Awards Ceremony

The event features an interactive forum with judges, the designers and editors of winning entries, and the audience. All books submitted to the competition are put on display, with the winning entries shown prominently. After the ceremony, books entered in the competition are donated to the DC Public Library.

Previous Award Winners

2017 Winners Slideshow
2017 Winners by Category
2016 Winners Slideshow
2015 Winners Slideshow
2014 Winners Slideshow
2014 Photo Gallery
2013 Winners Slideshow
2013 Ceremony Program
2012 Winners Slideshow
2012 Ceremony Program
2011 Winners Slideshow Part 1
2011 Winners Slideshow Part 2
2009 Winners Slideshow
2009 Ceremony Program
2008 Ceremony Program
2008 Winners Slideshow
2005 Winners Slideshow
2004 Winners Slideshow
2003 Winners Slideshow
2002 Winners Slideshow