The OPEN • SET competition and exhibition is a triennial event in the United States, featuring finely crafted design bookbindings. Sponsored by the American Academy of Bookbinding, it is designed to encourage both new binders and professionals, and is open to binders around the world. OPEN • SET 2020 offers prizes and acknowledgement in two categories: participants may choose to bind a book of their choice in the Open Category, or bind a book that the competition provides in the Set Category. Entries are limited to one book per category, per binder.

The Set Book for the competition is a commissioned work designed and printed by Russell Maret, a highly recognized letterpress printer from New York. For his biography and description of the Set Book, click here. Binders are invited to work expressively inside the book while creating the binding. It is the hope of the organizers that the Set Book — by inviting a more involved response throughout the whole book — will encourage a fire of creativity in the submissions.

Binders from all levels and cultures are invited to participate, as OPEN • SET is not limited to citizens of the United States nor to students or affiliates of AAB. All entries will be reviewed by a blind jury of three professional binders. The three members for the jury are Monique Lallier, Mark Esser, and Patricia Owen. To read their biographies, click here. Books selected for the exhibition will travel to four major cities throughout the year 2020 — New York City, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Austin.

2020 Exhibition venues!

  • New York City — The Grolier Club
  • San Francisco — The American Bookbinders Museum
  • Salt Lake City — Marriot Library, University of Utah
  • Austin — Austin Public Library




First place $3000
Second Place $2000
Third Place $1000


First place $3000
Second Place $2000
Third Place $1000


Multiple Highly Commendable recognition prizes of $100 are awarded to bindings that exhibit an extraordinary implementation of a particular feature of the binding such as headbands, onlays, inlays, design, use of unusual materials, unusual structure, tooling, etc.

OPEN • SET would like to express our appreciation to Harmatan and Oakridge Leathers, and J. Hewit and Sons Ltd. Leather for their generous sponsorship of these awards.



August 1, 2018: Registration opens
May 1, 2019: Registration closes
September 1, 2019: Submission due
September 2019: Jury review
November 2019: Non-exhibition books returned
Full year 2020: Exhibition travels
January 2021: Exhibition books returned

2020 Entry Information  |  2020 Registration  |  2020 Submission Information


Open Set Competition & Exhibition Catalog 2017