Zelta ābele

The book design competition is an annual event, which has been organised since 1993.
The competition aims to raise the professional and artistic level of Latvian book publishers, promote books and the culture of reading, to honor those involved in book creation in Latvia – artists, printing houses, publishers, and authors.

Publishers, registered in Latvia, may submit for the competition first editions in Latvia with original the design. These must be books published in the current year, which did not participate in the competition of the previous year. Books must be printed by a printing company, registered in Latvia. Participation in the competition is free of charge.

archive of competition

The book design competition “The Golden Apple-tree” was first held in 1993 and was entitled “The Most Beautiful Book”. Books published in the previous calendar year were assessed in it.

Although the title expressed precisely the meaning of the competition – assessing the artistic presentation of books, it, nevertheless, caused associations with beauty queen pageants.

Years were needed to find the right title for the competition. It was changed several times: “The Most Beautiful Book” (1993, 1996–2001), “The Book of 1994” and “The Book of 1995”, “Annual Prize in Book Publishing” (2002–2004). In 2005, the Association returned to the title that it had intended to use initially – “The Golden Apple-tree”, which has been written in golden letters in the history of Latvian book publishing by Miķelis Goppers (1908-1996), the outstanding pre-war Latvian book publisher and the head of publishing house “Zelta ābele” (The Golden Apple- tree). His son Kārlis Goppers gave permission to use henceforth the name of “The Golden Apple-tree” in the title of the book design competition.

Until 2005, six books were nominated and three were awarded prizes in each category. To increase competition and raise the prestige of awards, from 2005, the panel of judges may nominate five books in each category and grant one prize – to the best one. Since 2000, the panel also selects the Artist of the Year and the Award for Life-long Contribution to Book Publishing is awarded since 2003 to professionals working in various areas of book publishing – illustrators, editors, book-sellers, librarians, etc. Since 2005, the winners are awarded a prize, created by Maija Vīksna (Turka) – an image of a human head, biting into an apple, but, since 2009, the prize has been reduced to the shape of a golden apple, cast in bronze by sculptor Ivars Miķelsons.

Since 2016, the book design competition “The Golden Apple-tree” has been granted the status of a cultural award of national importance and Artists of the Year receive monetary prizes from the Ministry of Culture.

In 2023, “The Golden Apple-tree” competition will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Insight into the first 20 years of the competition is provided by the jubilee catalogue