The Most Beautiful Books of the Year
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The Most Beautiful Finnish Books 2012 have been named


The Most Beautiful Finnish Books 2012 have been named. The Finnish Book Art Committee has awarded the title of The Most Beautiful Book of the Year to the novel Neuromaani by Jaakko Yli-Juonikas. The graphic designer of the book is Markus Pyörälä. 24 books or book series were awarded the Beautiful Book Prize. Ten books were also given the award of Best Book Covers.

The Finnish Book Art Committee describes the most beautiful book of the year in these words: "Neuromaani is a surprisingly and stunningly unique package. It startles the reader with its very title (Neuromaniac). This work that challenges the boundaries of genre has truly found itself in a worthy form."

A beautiful book requires enthusiasm, sensitivity and cross-disciplinary skills from its makers. It calls for seamless cooperation between the writer, the graphic artist, the printing house and the bindery. When there is a shared understanding about all the aspects of the process, the result is a balanced and beautiful artistic whole. The awards go to all those who participated in making the most beautiful books of the year.

Unique books of poetry and prose

It has been exciting to see that distinctly visual and original solutions have been brought also to the use of prose and poetry. Lately there have been some good examples of how solutions have been sought by breaking the traditional boundaries.

Cooperation between the writer and the designer can be so close and mutually supportive that their contribution stands out as equal. A good example of this is the poetry collection Kuka ampui Ötzin? "The text and illustrations converse, disperse, crawl, escape - expand into a universe." The book was created by writer Vesa Haapala and graphic designer Markus Pyörälä.

Fascinating contrasts and visual solutions are also offered by the poetry book Sähkökatkoksen aikaan, written by Veera Antsalo and desgined by Jenni Saari, and the novel Gräset är mörkare på andra sidan, written by Kaj Korkea-aho and designed Emma Strömberg.

The spirit and content of the book comes out clear in the very layout of many of the awarded books. As an example, Elina Warsta has ingenuously designed the novel Nälkävuosi, by Aki Ollikainen, to look its age. "The material choices and typeface consistent with the spirit of the "hunger years" create an atmosphere of shortage."

Art and non-fiction

With art books it is not unusual that the artist also takes part in the graphic design of the book. Young Artist of the Year 2012 Ari Pelkonen has designed the layout of the book about himself together with graphic designer Liisa Seppo. "You almost don´t feel like opening this solidly squared book because just touching and looking at the cover is such a pleasurable experience."

At its best, an art book lets its artworks live. A good example of this is the book Elina Merenmies - Salaista iloa , designed by Patrik Söderlund. "With the large page size, the layout breathes and the calm typography lets the pictures speak."

The range of subjects in the non-fiction books was broad and they are highly commendable also as works of book art. In Puistohomot, written by Valdemar Melanko and designed by Timo Numminen "the visual techniques in the book skillfully create impressions of the sometimes even harsh esthetics of official reports." Markus Itkonen, in turn, has managed to design a harmonious and vivid book on the history of the National Library of Finland, written by Rainer Knapas and extending over several centuries.

The children´s books are full of surprises. One fine example is the joyous book Lunta sataa, Lupo! by the two graphic designers Marika Maijala and Réka Király.

Among the awarded works were six poetry and fiction books, five art and photographic books, five non-fiction books and five children´s books, as well as two comic books, one textbook and one book series.

Collection of The Most Beautiful Books 2012

The Finnish Book Art Committee has published its second collection of The Most Beautiful Finnish Books. It is not for sale but distributed to the makers of the books and companies and organizations in the field. The book also serves as an exhibition catalogue at domestic and international exhibitions.

The Finnish Book Art Committee received 231 books to evaluate. Books were sent in by both big and small publishing houses, museums, foundations, companies and private persons alike.

A criterion for the books entered in the competition is that the books must in key respects be Finnish. Consistent with international practice, the board of the Finnish Book Art Committee decided in autumn 2012 that also books printed abroad could enter the competition. The Finnish Book Art Committee places a lot of value on the high standard of Finnish printing work and believes that Finnish quality stands up for competition.

An exhibition of The Most Beautiful Finnish and Estonian Books 2012 can be seen in the café and the Agricola Room of the National Library of Finland until 23 May 2013. After that The Most Beautiful Finnish Books 2012 will tour at exhibitions elsewhere in Finland and abroad. The practice of selecting the most beautiful books of the year is carried out in over 30 countries.

Further information
Chair of the Finnish Book Arts Committee

Tuula Isoniemi
Tel. +358 (0)500 841 937

Press photos
Photos of books © Antti Huittinen

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