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SPECIAL PRIZES      ___________________      ABOUT THE COMPETITION

Sissejuhatus

25 kaunima Eesti raamatu konkursi eesmärgiks on kunstiliselt kujunduselt ja trükitehniliselt teostuselt parimate raamatute kui vaimse kultuuri nähtuse väärtustamine. 1956. aastal alguse saanud ja vahepeal vaibunud konkursi traditsiooni elustasid 1998. aastal Eesti Kujundusgraafikute Liit koostöös Eesti Kirjastuste Liidu ja Eesti Rahvusraamatukoguga.

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25 BEST DESIGNED ESTONIAN BOOKS OF 2019

 

Nope, no fighting among the jury, not a tear shed. Vehement discussions, on the other hand, abounded. Beauty cannot be measured by pure maths – the 25 best designed books are not picked from among the 134 submissions by just mechanically adding up votes, which would only serve to chop off anything quirky, extreme and off the wall, and leave the pedestal to the safe, middle-of-the-road contenders. The debates saw as many as five books substituted on the initial shortlist, i. e. one fifth of the whole lineup! A true testimony to the generally high level of the contestants, and decisions made with a heavy heart – yes, we know, so many pretty books had to be pushed aside.  

Now take the 134 entries submitted by 86 publishers: is it too many or too few? The overall amount of submissions is slightly down on the past couple of years; the number of publishers participating, on the other hand, higher than ever before – as could be expected in the situation of changing market conditions and ever-developing technologies and techniques. Seeing as the past year witnessed a rise, rather than a fall in publications, it is a veritable demonstration of growing self-criticism.  

So what were the trends and currents dominating the publishing industry and book design in 2019? Reality check: no digital revolution in our backyard this year either. Non-fiction, with handbooks and dictionaries in the van, is on its way moving into a parallel universe whereas physical, paper books still rule in the realms of fiction, fine art albums, and other more timeless and formal stuff. The number of titles is up, print runs are down, the industry map is unraveling in all directions, micro- and self-publishers appear and disappear overnight. And all this is neither good nor bad, it just happens to be the times we are living in.  

New and inspiring materials and techniques have joined the game, the distinction between classical and modernist gets blurred daily, conventions and canons are melting like snow. The younger generation lacks fear and/or loathing for the Soviet and transition period retro. Even so, the classic approach, the golden ratio, and the older generation with proper Kinderstube haven’t gone anywhere.  

We can see the rise of rough aesthetics, neo-naiveté, and deliberate ignoring of rules. Yet unlike five or six years ago when these trends began to seep into our book design, the rules are now being broken knowingly and calculatedly. The result? Designs that may be gruff and garish, but they are designs nevertheless, not arrant non-designs. And at long last and long overdue, typography in children’s books has become legible for kids, instead of being overly offbeat or downright infantile.  

The list of 2019 finalists is worth checking out, for it is rich and vibrant, and has a surprisingly good balance between the genres. It wasn’t just money that talked, or weight in grams, or gloss, due recognition was also given to thin, succinct, and smart. It was a good year of book harvest.  

 

Asko Künnap  
Chair of the Jury 

25 Kauneima raamatu žürii

THE JURY OF THE COMPETITION 25 BEST DESIGNED ESTONIAN BOOKS OF 2019

Viktor Gurov, 
National Library of Estonia

Maris Kaskmann,
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union

Katrin Kliimask,
Estonian Publishers’ Association

Asko Künnap,
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union

Tiina Sildre, 
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union

Maarika Solovjov, 
Association of Estonian Printing Industry

Endla Toots, 
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union

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5 BEST DESIGNED ESTONIAN CHILDREN´S BOOKS OF 2019

 

The contest of five best designed children’s books of Estonia was launched in 1998 by the Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union. The contest jury also includes representatives from the Association of Estonian Printmakers, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Estonian Publishers’ Association, and the National Library of Estonia. 

The contest of best designed children’s books of 2019 attracted 43 entries from 21 publishers. 

Gorgeous children’s books abound, and that’s worth rejoicing about. After all, pictures shape the tastes of the young reader; favourite books are scrutinised and read over and over again. In our age of smart devices, visual literacy is becoming more and more important, and so is the ability to pick the proper type and put together a well-balanced design. A good book teaches through example. 

Indeed, the entries were all pretty and well composed, no major surprises here. The overall picture must have been familiar to many jury members. Good illustrators often complete several books every year, without changing their style. And why should they change it anyway? This was one of the discussion points, too: a book designed with skill and made with heart is beautiful nonetheless, no matter that we have already seen a rather similar character with an identical warm smile running around on the pages of some previous books. This doesn’t take away from the charm. We have plenty of illustrators with unique styles; new talents, alas, are few and far between. 

The number of entries submitted to the contest is more or less the same each year. One has to be really, really good to get noticed. Having said that, one newcomer did make it into this year’s finals. 

Some of the more eye-catching book designs from the previous year were never even brought to the jury’s attention. Perhaps they would not have made the other jury members’ lists of favourites anyway, but the gallery of contest entries would have surely been richer and more diverse.  

The jury were rather unanimous in their decisions, and any decision is always largely subjective. The crop of beautifully illustrated and well-designed books was plentiful, and this list of five is simply too short to accommodate all those worthy of notice. 

 

Anu Kalm
Chair of the Jury

5 Kauneima raamatu žürii

THE JURY OF THE COMPETITION 5 BEST DESIGNED ESTONIAN CHILDREN´S BOOKS OF 2019

Viktor Gurov, 
National Library of Estonia

Anu Kalm, 
Association of Estonian Printmakers

Liis Karu,
Estonian Publishers’ Association

Anneli Kengsepp, 
Estonian Children’s Literature Centre

Anne Linnamägi,
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union

Piret Niinepuu-Kiik, 
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union

Priit Rea, 
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union

Tiina Mariam Reinsalu,
Association of Estonian Printmakers

Maarja Vannas, 
Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union