Frankfurt Book Fair is book award season. It starts with the German Book Award on the fair’s eve,  followed by the Global Illustrators Award, German Cartoon Award, the Frankfurt Book Fair Award for best international Literary Adaptation amongst many others I can’t name right now.  The prize that was of most interest to me was the Beauty and The Book Award, given to the most beautiful book published in Germany.  The shortlist is voted for by the general public and displayed during the festival while judges do what judges do best.  Fair visitors get to have a say too when visiting the display though I’m not sure whether these are taken into account for the final award.

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I found this setup a little problematic when it came to casting my vote.  Kept at a distance, it was impossible to get up close and personal. How could I judge the most beautiful book without being able to assess paper/print quality, illustrations, font, overall aesthetic.  All I could do was vote for the most visually striking front-cover.  It has to be said that I wasn’t particularly struck by any,  and, as for the official winner, the cover was too busy to have any impact from a distance on me. You can see it on the left below.  On the right is Lizzy’s Winner.

Disappointed at not being able to do the tactile test I set off to determine the book I considered the most beautiful in the whole of the book fair.  (OK in the 60% of the fair I saw in my two days there.)  My judging criteria were as above (paper/print quality, illustrations, font, overall aesthetic) plus price – I was looking for a book that might one day grace my own bookshelves.  This final criterion ruled out the multitudes of magnificent medieval facsimiles and the Dutch art book that, price criterion excluded, would have taken my trophy.  I didn’t dare ask how much the book cost – the exhibition stand alone would have cost more than my former annual salary – but wouldn’t I love a room like this one!

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Glorious! But returning to the realms of budgetary reality, here is the shortlist in reverse order for Lizzy’s Frankfurt Book Fair Beauty and The Book Award.

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3) The Seagull Books 2016/2017 Catalogue which fellow blogger Melissa has so lovingly described. Not a catalogue to discard, but to keep, read, savour and, in my case, treasure, as I’m sure that this year’s edition is likely to be the only one I ever own (or carry back from the Frankfurt Book Fair. At 1.8 kg, it’s heavy.)

2) The embossed cloth-bound pocket-sized hardback essay collections from Notting Hill Editions.  In terms of description, I shall leave it to Notting Hill Editions own marketeers, because I’ve never read a better strapline: Memorable, collectible, akin to erotic brain-teasing toys for the tactile reader. No surprise then that two such beauties have made their way to my shelves already, and I fully expect this collection to grow.

1) You’ll see from my winner that black books with embossed gold really appeal to me, but the city travel guides from Define Fine are simply gorgeous.  Not sure if the gold-embossed black covers are leather but they look and feel real (though is it likely for a cover price of €25?).  The contents, printed entirely on high-quality glossy paper, are unlike any other travel guide I have read, and are based on, from what I understand, the personal experiences of the husband and wife company onwers.  The exquisite photographs are also their own.  There’s an interesting history of the company here as well as an instagram to drool over here.  I had to content myself with a bookmark to bring home with me as the Divine Define Fine City Guide to Barcelona has yet to be published. I’m waiting …..

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