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The Dummy Award is the international competition for the best unpublished photobook dummy of the year.
Since 2010, the Kassel Fotobook Festival has been inviting photographers worldwide to take part in its „Kassel Dummy Award“. Over this period of time thousands of photobook-prototypes have been submitted from all over the world. Hundreds of books from the shortlist have been exhibited at countless international photography events, festivals and exhibition spaces. The participating photographers have been able to establish contacts with galleries, publishers and festivals and present their books to an international audience.
As of 2023 the Kassel Dummy Award will be continued by the PhotoBookMuseum in Cologne. We are sure that this will increase the importance of the Dummy Award for a new generation of photographers and put it on an even broader footing. Together with MAS Matbaa in Istanbul, our printing and publishing partner, this is destined to maintain the high quality and reputation of the Dummy Award in the future.
The rules are easy: each year we invite all photographers worldwide to take part. From all entries, around 50 books are selected for a shortlist to be exhibited at international photography events. Together with the votes of the shortlist jury each exhibiting venue has a vote — either determined by public vote or by curators choice. With these votes 5 winning books will be selected from the shortlist. One of these books will receive the PBM/MAS Prize. The book that wins the PBM/MAS Prize will be produced and published by the leading Turkish photobook printing and binding house MAS Matbaa in cooperation with the PhotoBookMuseum. The costs will be fully covered. The other 4 winning books will receive a production grant for printing their books at MAS Matbaa.
Terms and Conditions
Please read carefully. By registering and sending your book to the Dummy Award you acknowledge these conditions. Should you have any further questions please read our FAQs or contact Lilli ()
Of all the entries made, we require physical books or book dummies sent to us by the photographers/authors. From all the printed books, around 50 books will be selected for the shortlist that will go on an international exhibition tour. 5 winning books will be selected from the shortlist. One of these books will receive the PBM/MAS Prize and will be produced and published, the other 4 will get an equivalent production grant.
The book that wins the PBM/MAS Prize will be produced and published by the leading Turkish photobook printing and binding house MAS MATBAA, Istanbul in cooperation with The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH, Cologne. The costs for this will be covered 100%. The other 4 winning books will be receive a production grant of 25% for printing their books at MAS Matbaa, Istanbul. (detailed conditions below)
Who can enter?
Any photographer from around the world who accepts the following conditions can participate by registering for the competition and submitting an unpublished work as a physical book. All books published digitally or by self-publishing in small print-runs up to 100 copies are eligible to apply.
Purpose and content
Formally, a submitted work must adhere to the following photobook criteria: A photobook is a nonperiodic collection of photographs printed (or reproduced on photographic paper) with text or even empty pages, with a binding and a cover. It can be made from paper or other suitable materials. There are no restrictions as to its content. It goes without saying that photographs are the major component of the book. Any format can be chosen, but to be eligible for the prize, certain production standards have to be adhered to. There are no size restrictions on the photobook dummy. Prerequisite for First Prize is a feasible book concept, meaning a book that can be produced through the typical production methods for a photobook. The final decision on its feasibility rests with the jury.
Entries can only be registered online; click here to access the registration process. We charge € 36,00 per entry and book. There is no limit to the number of entries per person. If you would like your book to be returned to you, then we require a further postage and handling charge per entry. Postage and handling charge options are listed in the registration procedure. Payments can only be made online, by credit card, PayPal or bank transfer during the registration process.
By accepting these conditions the participant states that the submitted work has never been published by a publishing house. All books published digitally or by self-publishing in small print-runs up to 100 copies are eligible to apply.
The following conditions are mandatory for the PBM/MAS Prize.
• The book will be produced and published by MAS Matbaa, Istanbul in cooperation with The PhotoBookMuseum, Cologne.
• MAS Matbaa, Istanbul in cooperation with The PhotoBookMuseum, Cologne reserves the right – in close consultation with the photographer – to decide the final print run of the first edition and to make changes to the size and additional features of the publisher’s dummy to optimize production, if necessary.
• In cooperation with The PhotoBookMuseum, Cologne, MAS Matbaa, Istanbul shall bear the costs of production, project management and sales of the first trade edition. In return, the photographer shall waive his claim to royalties from the sale of the book and to any licence revenues from the first trade edition. Nevertheless in exchange the photographer will get 10% of the print-run for his/her own purposes from the first trade edition. With these copies the photographer/author can do whatever he wants. Additional copies can be bought from MAS Matbaa, Istanbul for the prize of production cost + shipment to authors location.
Registration opens 1st of October 2023 and closes on 31st of January 2024. The latest arrival date for the physical book dummies at The PhotoBookMuseum, Dummy Award 2024, Körnerstr. 6–8, 50823 Köln, Germany is the 15th of February 2024. The Jury will come together in Cologne by end of February – beginning of March and the shortlisted announced shortly thereafter. The five winners of the Dummy Award & the PBM/MAS Prize will be announced in January 2025.
The shortlist jury composed of international experts will meet in Cologne end of February and choose about 50 book dummies from all entries. These shortlisted books will be exhibited during various photographic events as announced. The shortlisted books will be featured on the dummyaward.org website, in a printed catalogue and videos of the books will be featured on the PhotoBookMuseum Youtube channel and in its instagram promotion. The final decision on the 5 prize winners will take place in January 2025, as soon as most of the festivals and exhibition venues have handed in their (public)votings.
Requirement of a second copy of each shortlisted dummy
Dummies that make the shortlist will be shown during international photo events as announced. Because some of these events take place at the same time, we will request a second copy of the dummy. This second copy should arrive at The PhotoBookMuseum in Cologne within 21 days after the announcement of the shortlist. Should this not be available then, it will be omitted from some of the overlapping exhibitions. One copy of the shortlisted books will be retained at the end of the exhibition tour for inclusion in the Photobook Dummy Library of the PhotoBookMuseum, Cologne.
Return shipment of the books
Should you like your book to be returned, then we will send it back to you within 6–8 weeks after the end of the entry period (for books not shortlisted) or the end of the shortlist exhibition tour (for shortlisted books). As mentioned above we will retain one copy of the shortlisted exhibition books for inclusion in the Photobook Dummy Library of the PhotoBookMuseum, Cologne. The second copy of the book will be send back without further charges. All not shortlisted books will be send back, if applicable.
Please choose one of the return shipment options depending on the destination and tracking option you wish. Postage and handling charge options are listed and can be chosen in the registration procedure. Returns will only be made if the return postage has been paid.
Germany: without tracking: 4,79€ / with tracking and insurance: 5,49€
EU (European Union): without tracking: 10,49€ / with tracking and insurance: 14,49€
EUROPE (Non EU): without tracking: 18,49€ / with tracking and insurance: 29,99€
WORLD: without tracking: 18,49€ / with tracking and insurance: 45,99€
Please do not send us return stickers, stamps, cash or similar items. If you don’t wish your book dummy to be returned, the dummies will remain in the property of the Photobookmuseum gGmbH.
The dummies that shall not be returned will be kept for a minimum of two years and can be picked up upon short notice. Please get in touch with
We will handle all submitted dummies with the upmost care. During the registration process we will have to put a small sticker with your registration number at a decent place inside the book cover or sleeve. Although we use high-quality detachable stickers in very few cases they left a mark.
Because it is important to us that the dummies can be handled during the exhibition, they sometimes might have to be insured against theft. We don’t have to do that in cologne and it did not happen often, but it can be that a festival or exhibition venue has to make sure to secure the dummies in a way. For this reason, the dummies might need to get a small hole punched on the back/cover for a cord or nylon can be attached. Apart from that, we are not liable for damages, loss or books stolen during the exhibition and transports. If this happens, we will contact you and discuss the possibilities of producing a replacement.
The entrant declares that he/she is the owner of all copyright, usage, application and other protection rights, or if he/she is not the owner of these rights – that he/she has the permission of the owners of these rights and is able to use them without a time or spatial limit and is able to transfer them. Given that this is provided for, the entrant transfers to the The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH and Mas Matbaa the right to selective publication in the media. An obligation to remunerate does not apply. The entrant also ensures that foreign rights, especially foreign copyright and similar regulations of the initiator, the entrant or any third parties, will not stand in the way of the abovementioned transfer of rights. The entrant releases The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH, Cologne and MAS Matbaa, Istanbul from all possible claims on any legal grounds. Copyright and the above mentioned usages of the photobook designs apart from The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH and MAS Matbaa and PBM remain with the entrants and the authors.
Entrants cannot exert direct influence over content, type and extent of the reproduction of their work in the shortlist catalogue, the shortlist exhibitions or in the online presentation of the dummy award, its shortlist and winners. We ask for your understanding in this matter.
Agreement to our conditions
By entering one or several works, each entrant agrees to the conditions and the selection process. The decision and judgments of the shortlist jury and the decision of the prize winners are final.
Legal processes are excluded.
In all instances of data processing (for example raising, processing and transmitting) we follow current law. Essential data that you have sent us for business transactions will be stored and forwarded to service providers as needed for the ordering process. Address and ordering details will only be used and processed for our own marketing purposes. We guarantee that we won’t forward your details to third parties. You can oppose the use, processing and transmission of your personal details at any time through a short informal note mailed to us at The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH, Körnerstr. 6-8, 50823 Cologne or by email to . The following will then be the case for the processing of data for your order: Once we have received your objection, relevant data will not be used for anything but the use, processing and transmission of your order.
Our offer is subject to change. Contracts signed through us are bound to German law with the exception of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and the EGBGB. Where permitted, the sole place of jurisdiction is the Cologne District Court. Individually liable: The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH, Körnerstr. 6-8, 50823 Cologne, Commercial Registry: 83152 at Cologne District Court , CEO Frederic Lezmi & Markus Schaden.
The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH
Körnerstr. 6-8 (Ladenlokal)
An unpublished book is not published by a publisher, has no ISBN and no distribution. If you have self-published your book in a small print-run of up to 150 copies or have published your book digitally you still have an unpublished book and you are eligible to apply.
Take this as a photobook definition: A photobook is a nonperiodic collection of photographs printed (or reproduced on photographic paper) with text (no matter how much) or even empty pages, with a sort of binding and a sort of cover. It can be made from paper or other suitable materials. There are no restrictions as to its content. It goes without saying that photographs are the major component of the book. Any format can be chosen, but to be eligible for the Dummy Award and PBM/MAS prize, certain production standards have to be adhered to. There are no size restrictions on the photobook dummy. Prerequisite for the PBM/MAS Prize is a feasible book concept, meaning a book that can be produced through the typical production methods for a photobook. The final decision on its feasibility rests with the jury.
International artists, photographers, graphic designers etc. who incorporate the photographic medium in their artistic practice and have an unpublished photobook project. There are no restrictions as to age, level, region, gender, style etc..
All entries welcome!
Of course you can also apply as a group. Please put all your names into the author(s) field in the registration form and in the same order the field nationalities (if different). Please decide on one email address and billing info.
To apply you have to register online. To start the registration process please click on the register here buttons on this site. You will then have to pay an entry fee (36€)and choose if and how your book dummy will be send back after the Jury session. During the registration process you will also be asked to give us all relevant information concerning your book dummy, billing and reshipment information. Different payment methods are available. By hitting the pay now button you will accept the above terms and conditions and your book is registered. Depending on how you payed you will either get a payment advice for bank transfer or a direct confirmation of your registration.
You will receive a confirmation mail with an invoice and a registration form attached. Please carefully read the information on the registration form, make corrections to your data if needed, print out and add a physical copy of that form to your book.
Then send your book in time and with sufficient postage to:
Körnerstr. 6-8 (Ladenlokal)
You will receive a confirmation email that your book arrived with in a couple of days after arrival in Cologne.
- Registration is open between 1st of October 2023 and 31st of January 2024
- The 2024 Shortlist Jury will be announced in the beginning of December 2023
- Your book has to arrive in Cologne by the 15th of February 2024.
- The Shortlist Jury will meet in the beginning of March 2024 and the shortlist will be announced shortly after.
- The world tour spanning 18 venues and festivals in 15 countries and lasting till the end of the year will kick-off with a first presentation of the shortlist at the PhotoBookMuseum in Cologne in March 2024.
- In January 2025 at least one set is back in Cologne and we will have all the votes of the participating venues and festival so that we can announce the five winners and PBM/MAS Prize in mid January 2025.
We fully understand this question. 36€ plus all the postage is a lot of money.
Let us be very transparent. First of all The PhotoBookMuseum gGmbH is a non profit organisation. We get a little funding by the city of Cologne and have some sponsors that help us make sure that we continue working and do the things we do. The dummy award is in the best case has to be a self-sufficient branch in our general mission.
We took over this award and are investing a lot of time, money and passion because we believe that supporting unpublished books and ideas on an international level is an important thing to do for us as an institution.
Having said this and to put it in numbers: Last year we had around 385 paying registrations. This amounts to around 12.000€ revenue (after 7%tax, PayPal fees, customs etc) That sounds a lot but from from this budget we:
- pay an assistant (Lilli) who helps us unpack your dummies, writes you confirmation emails and answers all your questions. She also keeps the website and registration running. She will document the shortlisted books for the website, make videos for YouTube and communicate the shortlist on social media. She will also pack, label and send all the books that need to be returned and tracks their journey. On top of that she is organising the world tour, coordinating the dates and keeping track of the two sets on their way around the world. (That’s a lot of work).
- invite min 5 jury members for a two day jury session to Cologne, covering travel costs & hotel. To save some costs the jury is mainly from or living in Europeans countries – if travel costs are not too high we can also invite from abroad. Add all the other expenses we have as hosts.
- produce a 16 page catalogue, designed by an excellent graphic designer every year and printed in a 10.000 print run. We are happy to have a paper sponsor, but It still costs a lot of money and also needs to be shipped to Germany and then distributed from there. The catalogues are distributed for free.
- present the shortlisted books in an Exhibition at the PhotoBookMuseum after the Jury-Session and hold a reception and presentation at the Rencontres D’Arles in Summer.
- and of course we also cover all costs of production, shipment, promotion and distribution of the PBM/MAS Prize winner. The other four Dummy Award winners receive support and a 25% production grant.
- On top of that you have to add the legal stuff., website costs, newsletter, accounting etc.
If you take all this in consideration you have to admit that the above mentioned budget is not too generous and in the best case the Award is self supporting.
In this case you are lucky. Your book dummy will be featured on our website and YouTube channel, in our printed catalogue and on our social media channels. But most important: it will go on a world tour!
As we have have so many festival, events and venues interested in showing the dummy Award we have two sets of books touring. This means we will need a second copy of your dummy for the second set. This second copy has to arrive at the PhotoBookMuseum in Cologne, within 3 weeks after the announcement of the shortlist.
Of course being shortlisted means that you are still in the race to become Dummy Award Winner and maybe PBM/MAS prize winner.
You will get a call from us!
The five winning books will be featured on our website, on social media and in a special presentation/exhibition in the PhotoBookMuseum in Cologne.
If you are awarded the PBM/MAS prize your book will be published! In the next step Ufuk Sahin from Mas Matbaa will take your dummy home to Istanbul and consult with his team. He will get in contact with you with suggestions for materials, production details, improvements etc. Together we will discuss a print run and a timeline. Please expect that it will take around 6 month untill your book is printed.
The other four prize winners will receive a production grant of 25% if they decide to print their books at MAS Matbaa, Istanbul.
If you plan a crowdfunding campaign or are already in discussions with a publishers that can be a game changer. With our large network and good contacts to photobook publishers we will try to assist to get your book published.