Last updated on July 9th, 2016
It’s the place that authors, illustrators, typographers and graphic designers meet: book covers. If you want to achieve truly amazing book cover design, you turn to the pros, and in 2014 they really knocked it out of the park.
Here are the 10 best book cover designs to hit the shelves in the last year.
1. Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letter forms
Written by renowned typographer Alex Fowkes, the cover of this book is its real selling point. Reported among Creative Bloq’s top 20 best graphic design books of 2014, the book itself is impressive; but the cover really brings it home. Since this is a title meant to be sold to typographers, whether aspiring or experienced, as well as illustrators and graphic designers, the design of the cover itself had to be up to par with the work of Fowkes’ intended audience. The cover is, of course, hand-lettered typography, expertly illustrated by a master’s hand in appealing colors. The simplicity of it is just added proof that Fowkes is a true professional.
2. The Book of Heaven
This title was written by Patricia Storace, but the cover design is the work of Linda Huang. This cover uses just enough contrast to make the title pop, and is just abstract enough to make you look a little closer. Realizing that the geometric, crystalline structure on the cover is designed from pieces of the sky at different positions and times of day helps make “heaven” the focus of the novel’s cover as much as its title.
Listed by The Casual Optimist as one of the top 50 covers of 2014, this novel by Edan Lepucki brings up images of a future that can’t be allowed to happen, a terrifying dystopia wrought with danger and intrigue. The cover, designed by Julianna Lee, gives an image of familiar Nor Cal woods, but turned on its side—much like the world in Lepucki’s novel.
4. Dog Ear
A poetic illustration on the marks humanity leaves on the world written by Jim Johnstone, David Drummond’s design expertly illustrates the book’s narrative into a single image. From the “dog-eared” letters, cut from another title, to the scratched and worn out backdrop, there are few other designs that so flawlessly encapsulate the image of marks left behind.
5.Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
The title may be a mouthful, but the cover design of Haruki Murakami’s newest novel exists on a whole different scale. Designed by Chip Kidd, this design appeals to multiple senses with a dustcover that sits on a level above the backdrop of familiar colors and less familiar maps. It’s simple in its color and overall design, but extremely complex in execution.
Keith Ridgeway’s three-story collection has been called “idiosyncratic and fascinating,” and the cover design—by Rachel Adam—fits the same description to the letter. Minimalist in pure white and a shade between black and grey, the image is assembled from nothing more than title, author name, and 17 dots stretched and distorted to imply perspective. Nonetheless, the illustration is distinct and perfectly understood. Less is more in professional design.
Listed among Buzzfeed’s most beautiful book covers of 2014, this novel by Charlotte Strick features a stellar three-piece illustration by Patrick Leger that implies a sense of motion and beauty as well as the perfect illustration of giving up. The illustration itself is simple, with limited color values and almost no color gradation, and the result is a piece where every line serves a distinct purpose that is greater than the sum of its parts.
An exercise in papercraft—or maybe a digital representation of it—this title was written by Ben Marcus and features stellar cover design by Peter Mendelsund. Varying shades of blue make this cover visually busy, but the use of hard contrast in the title and author name make it impossible to miss the key points of the image.
One of the best book covers of the year according to the New York Times, this title was written by Dan Barber and designed by Gabriel Wilson. It’s beautifully organic, colorful and simple all at once. The typographical effects really bring the design home, with the title half-buried in the soil giving the book an almost damp look.
10. All Our Names
One of the simpler designs to rank in the top 10, this novel by DinawMengestu is reminiscient of a chalk board, or inverted pencil on paper. The texture applied to the typography carries the design visually, while the strikeout lines extending beyond the edge of the cover make the handwritten aspect all the more real.
Tips for Aspiring Authors
If you’re looking to self-publish, finding someone to illustrate or design the cover for your book is a must. You can utilize designing services like Designhill, locate a local designer with experience in the field, or even try your own hand at it—just make sure that the final piece is professional, aesthetically pleasing and properly illustrates the core of your manuscript. Regardless of how you’re looking to publish, sticking with the pros in cover design is sure to get your book noticed.