Bibliographical Society

Book Collecting Contest

The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia sponsors a biennial Book Collecting Contest for all UVa students. The 55th contest will be held in 2024.  Judges are looking for a coherent assembly of books and other printed material on any subject, not a list of all the books you own.

First Prize: $1,000 and a scholarship worth $1,500 to Rare Book School; Second Prize: $600; Honorable Mention: $300;  over $400 in gift certificates offered by local booksellers

All who place in the BSUVA contest are eligible for the National Collegiate Book Collecting Competition which awards a top prize of $2,500.

The Rules

  • The contest is open to all UVa undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
  • The collection must be owned by and collected by the contestant.
  • Judges consider collections on the basis of coherence of focus, method of collecting, progress made in creating the collection, and the quality of the explanation of the collection’s focus. Where appropriate, the quality of the description of the books, that is, of the physical characteristics such as binding, cover decoration, and illustrations and bibliographical features such as format, printing and publication details, is taken into consideration. Collections are not judged on dollar value or size. Recent winning collections in the UVa contest have focused on Tibetan books, Argentine publishing, graphic novels, Victorian serial fiction, children’s series such as the Hardy Boys books, eighteenth-century English literature, central African literature, flip-books,  and Pablo Neruda.
  • Collections that have won a prize in this contest in a previous year may not be submitted again in a subsequent year; but former winners are welcome to submit other collections in subsequent contests.
  • Contestants should submit the following by the deadline of Feb. 12, 2024:
  1. A list of books organized by author, subject, or some other principle appropriate to the collection.  For each item, include at least the following information: author, title, date, place, publisher, hardback or paperback, and an indication of condition.
  2. An Essay. The essay might answer some of the following questions: How did you start this collection? What are your most interesting books, and why? How do you intend to develop your collection in the future? What titles does the collection most need?
  3. Information about themselves: Name, street or postal address, telephone number, email address, academic level (e.g., first year College, second year Law, Masters student, PhD student).
  • Entries should be sent by email, or U.S. mail to Mrs. Anne Ribble, Executive Secretary, Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2014 Hessian Rd.,  Charlottesville, VA 22903; email .


Address specific questions about the contest to Mrs. Anne Ribble at  The following books may be useful in answering questions about book collecting:

  • John Carter. ABC for Book Collectors. 7th ed. revised by Nicolas Barker. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 1995.
  • Jean Peters, ed. Book Collecting: A Modern Guide. New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1978

Winners of the 2022 Book Collecting Contest

  • First place, $1,000, and a Rare Book School Fellowship —Austin Benson, “The Little Office[s] of Our Lady, 1599–1966: Online Book Collecting during the COVID-19 Pandemic”
  • Second place, $600—Cherrie Kwok, “Postcolonial Ephemera: Collecting Fragments of Decadent Hong Kong
  • Honorable Mention, $300—Rebecca Barry, “Expanding Generic Bounds of Space-Time: 150 Years of Speculative and Science Fiction”