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'The Most Beautiful Swiss Books' competition was established to promote and reward top-quality book design in Switzerland. It was established at the behest of the famous typographer and designer Jan Tschichold in 1943. The competition is open to graphic designers, publishers and printers. Annually, the Federal Office of Culture receives around 400 submissions. A five-member, internationally staffed jury, currently chaired by Cornel Windlin, selects the most beautiful Swiss books each year.

What qualifies as a Swiss book?
A book is considered a Swiss book when it fulfils at least one of the following three criteria: the book was designed by a Swiss designer, the publisher has its headquarters in Switzerland, or the printer has its headquarters in Switzerland.

The jury's criteria
In judging the submissions to the competition, the jury takes into account each book's overall concept, graphic design and typography, and pays particular attention to innovation and originality. Further criteria include the quality of the printing and the cover, the binding and the materials used. The award is conceived as a distinction and no prize money is conferred. There is no hierarchy among the prize-winning books.

Catalogue and exhibitions
The results of the jury's verdict are published annually in a catalogue, containing the jury reviews and various data on the prize-winning books. In addition, a number of exhibitions are mounted annually in Switzerland, while the books are also presented in several smaller exhibitions abroad. Catalogue and exhibitions not only lend the award greater visibility, they also promote the exchange of ideas among designers, printers and publishers.

Response to the competition
The competition has in fact become a seismograph of current trends and tendencies in contemporary book design and production, while also looking back on a substantial and significant history. The Most Beautiful Swiss Books also belong to the frontrunners in the international competition 'Best Book Design from all over the World' of the Stiftung Buchkunst in Leipzig, Germany. In February 2011, three Swiss books won a silver and bronze medal as well as an honourary diploma, which goes to prove the high quality and tradition of Swiss book design, which sets standards internationally and enjoys an excellent reputation.

The competition's history
In 1998 the Federal Office of Culture took on the coordination of 'The Most Beautiful Swiss Books' competition, which had previously been organised by the Swiss Association of Booksellers and Publishers. Since then, the competition has undergone a reassessment of its strategy and content, factors which still apply today. Since the professional and design expertise of the jury members has top priority, greater emphasis is therefore placed on the aspect of design. Taking into account globally changing conditions of production, the competition now allows for a more international outlook.

Participating in the competition

At the end of January 2013, the most beautiful Swiss books will be judged by the jury of the competition. The submission date for books from the year 2012 is Thursday, 10. January 2013 (postmark). Later submissions will not be considered. The registration form for participation in the competition can be downloaded from this site from October 2012 onwards. Kindly note: Do not submit books without the registration form.


The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2011
Texts: German, English, French, Italian
ISBN: 978-3-9522700-9-7

Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Concept and design: Aude Lehmann

Publication date:
June 2012

Swiss distribution:
Buchzentrum Olten, order no. 12504837

Distribution Germany, Austria:
Verlag Hermann Schmidt Mainz,,

International distribution:
Idea Books, Amsterdam,,


Manuel Krebs, 1970, Bern [Jury Chair]
Studied graphic design at the School of Applied Arts in Biel-Bienne. Established the graphic design studio Norm together with Dimitri Bruni in 1999, with a focus on designing and publishing books and typefaces. Book design includes self-commissioned research in the field of type and graphic design, the most relevant being 'Norm: Introduction' (2000) and 'Norm: The Things' (2002). Commissions include numerous collaborations with museums (TATE Modern; Kunsthaus Zurich; Museum for Design Zurich) and artists (Fischli & Weiss; Simon Starling; Dieter Roth). Examples for type design include the 'Simple' typeface for Cologne airport (2003), the corporate typeface for OMEGA watches, the typeface 'Replica' (2008) and the corporate typeface for Swatch (2010). In 2005, Norm won first prize in the Swiss National Bank's competition for the new banknote series. In 2011, Norm was awarded the Grand Prix Design by the Swiss Government. Norm is currently working with the Louvre Paris on the signage and communication of the Louvre-Lens, which will open in winter 2012. 

Will Holder, 1969, Hatfield (UK)
Trained in typography, Will Holder's practice encompasses authorship, editorial, typesetting, photographic printing and distribution. He is editor of F.R.DAVID, a journal concerned with reading and writing in the arts, published by de Appel, Amsterdam, and is currently editing and designing a biography of American composer Robert Ashley in the form of musical notation (together with Alex Waterman), and rewriting William Morris' 'News from Nowhere (An epoch of rest)' (1876) into a guide for design education and practice set in 2135. In May 2009, Holder curated 'Talk Show' at the ICA, an exhibition and month-long event programme concerning speech and conversation as a model for production. He has been teaching at the Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, since 1999, and ran the research project 'The Tomorrow Book' at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. He lives in London.

Christina Reble, 1950, Zürich
Trained in the domain of publishing and das a type designer. From 1973-1985, she worked as an editor at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at the ETH Zurich; collaboration with Hans-Rudolf Lutz. Independent publishing projects. At the Museum of Design Zurich since 1986 as Head of Publications, with emphasis on visual communication, design and architecture. Collaborations with designers, printers and publishing partners. Consulting and teaching activities at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).

Christoph Schifferli, 1950, Ascona
Studied sinology, economic history and computer science in Paris; earned a doctorate in Chinese economic history in 1980. From 1981, research assignments in Asia, as well as various commissions in the areas of publishing and technology; since 1983 active in the domains of multimedia and internet, with a special emphasis on the arts, culture and education. Collector of photography as well as art and photography books since the 1980s.

Lex Trüb, 1971, Horgen
Studied graphic design at the Schule für Gestaltung, Zurich. In 2001, co-founded Nieves with Benjamin Sommerhalder, where he remained active until 2003. Art direction at the Schauspielhaus Zürich from 2002-04. Since 2005, collaborating with Urs Lehni as Lehni-Trueb in the fields of book design, exhibition design, identity work and workshops for various institutions, museums, artists and architects in Switzerland and abroad. Established 'Bookhorse' in 2008 as a vehicle for diverse publishing activities/collaborations with artists and writers. Currently working with Lytle Shaw on 'The Moiré Effect', a book about the mysterious life of the Swiss photographer Ernst Moiré.