Germany Honors Its ‘Most Beautiful Regional Book’

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The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels and federal interior ministry have opened ‘Days of the Regions’ with a jury’s selection of Germany’s ‘Most Beautiful Regional Book.’

The jury for the German ‘Most Beautiful Regional Book’ discusses its shortlist and winner in Erfurt. From left are Peter Peterknecht, Michael Helbing, Anja Waldmann, Katharina Hesse, Kirsten Witte-Hofmann, and Phillip Hailperin, Image: Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Design, Binding, Typography, and Concept’
As the annual autumn awards avalanche in the international books business picks up speed, news today (September 15) arrives from Germany that Aunt Emma Lives: Visiting Small Franconian Shops by Tommie Goerz and Walther Appelt (Ars Vivendi Verlag) has won the Most Beautiful Regional Book Award.

The program is the work of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Home Affairs and administered by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association.

The jury convened at Buchhandlung Peterknecht, a bookstore in the town of Erfurt, to announce the win.

In its rationale, the jury writes, “Well sorted and tidy, Aunt Emma Lives on local shopping culture, with a refreshing David vs. Goliath tone to its 15 portraits of shops and their owners.

“The hardcover book, with a ribbon bookmark is an exquisite volume, typographically and photographically designed with great attention to detail. It features excellent full-page and double-page photographs. All quotations are in the Franconian dialect and are set off in color.

“This book is clearly located in the region and at the same time stands for a topic that can claim great interest far beyond its own borders.”

And the competition is tied in with the #HeimatErlesen (“Choose Home”) campaign starting today and running to the end of September, its “Days of the Regions” programming meant to support regional economic cycles.

For the international publishing industry, this is interesting for its embrace of literature as part of this federal and state cooperative venture. Readings, campaigns, and events are devised at the local level, and many looking at this will see an analog in the effort to preserve and promote local news as well as literature.

The Stiftung Buchkunst, Book Art Foundation, works with the Börsenverein’s “regional interest group” to organize the program, and this year’s jury comprises Phillip Hailperin, a book designer and manufacturer; Michael Helbing, culture editor, Thüringer Allgemeine; Peter Peterknecht, bookseller and host of the award ceremony 2021; Anja Waldmann, communications designer; and Kirsten Witte-Hofmann, publisher of the 2020 winning title by Barbara Thériault.

The 2021 ‘Most Beautiful Regional Book’ Shortlist

In its deliberations, the jury looks for “books that have a regional reference and stand out because of their design, binding, typography, and overall concept and promise salability in the local book trade.”

This awards program and its association to the “Days of the Regions” effort comes under the umbrella German publishing industry campaign, Jetzt ein buch (“Now a Book”), which is a nationwide framework in which the regional program operates.

A detail from ‘Erfurt die Verwandlung, Teil Eins,’ ‘Erfurt: The Transformation, Part 1’


More from Publishing Perspectives on the German market is here, and more on publishing and book awards is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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