Newton book collection competition accepting entries

by Pam Harris

Your “old” books can win you admiration, cachet, and cash prizes of $600, $300 and $200.

The A. Edward Newton Student Book Collection Competition is the longest-running collegiate book collecting competition in the nation. Started in the 1930s by a renowned Philadelphia book collector, A. Edward Newton, the competition awards cash prizes to the top three Swarthmore students who submit the best essays and annotated bibliographies of their book collections.

Contest Guidelines:

The contest, held annually, is open to all undergraduate students, and prizes are awarded to the three best book collections as judged by the Newton Committee.

  • Books must be owned and have been collected by the student.
  • Entries must include an annotated bibliography of at least 25 books and a one-page essay describing how, when, where, and why the books were acquired. The bibliography is often strengthened when categorized into discrete units/subheadings, if applicable, since it indicates the collector’s understanding of the collection as a whole. Non-print material may be included in the collection, but should not constitute the majority of the collection. Textbooks should not be included.
  • Each collection will be judged by the extent to which it represents a well-defined principle giving it unity and continuity, for example, an author, a subject, a publisher, a genre, etc. Annotations are expected to display the collector’s understanding and knowledge of his or her books. The essay and bibliography should showcase the collector’s demonstrated dedication as well as the collection’s originality, creativity, and potential for growth. Additional credit (but not required) will be given if the collector can show appreciation of their books as objects of craft.
  • Preferred format of entries: Electronic MSWord documents or pdfs, with name of submitter on first page only (submissions are anonymous during evaluation) but page numbers and title of collection on all subsequent pages.

Deadline: Midnight, Friday, March 18
Information: Contact Pamela Harris at or Melanie Maksin at

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