The first edition of the eBook Cover Design Awards came out in August, 2011.
Since then we’ve published thousands of covers and critiques, skewered the covers that seemed wanting, and praised the designers who showed real innovation and skill in this new form.
The ebook cover still has not broken away from the print book tradition, either in the basic strategies designers use to interest and attract readers, or in the way the covers are represented graphically, as clones of their print book cousins.
There’s still a great deal of innovation to explore in ebook covers, and I keep thinking that simplification, using strong and direct visuals and typography, is eventually going to win out.
We’ll see. In the meantime you can see the progress from one year to another quite easily through the entries to this monthly contest.
Below, you’ll find last years’ winners, month by month (each is linked to its sales page, too). I think every one of these covers is just plain good, in all the right ways.
Let me know which of these wonderful covers is your favorites in the comments.
Drawn from a pool of 1,395 covers submitted (1214 fiction, 181 nonfiction), here are the winners in fiction and nonfiction for the year:
Fiction: The Determining, Author: Rebecca Grous, Designer: Sophia Feddersen of The Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency
JF: An exciting sci-fi cover that where an adept use of type, the evocative gaze of the woman, the fractured image and all the texture woven into the design combine to achieve a magnetic effect. Great stuff.
Nonfiction: Modern Manhood, Author: David Wallace Fleming, Designer: Damonza.com
JF: Great stuff, and I love how the designer has effortlessly combined the concept of the cover with the art, all rolled into one. It actually made me smile when I saw it, that’s real impact.
Fiction: Hedon, Author: Jason Werbeloff, Designer: James T. Egan of Bookfly Design
JF: The real role of cover designers is to sell books, and they do it indirectly. The cover of this dystopian psycho-thriller does just that. Before I looked it up I knew it was a gritty dystopian tale, and my interest—and willingness to buy—was piqued. It’s all texture, detail, and focus accomplished with a controlled color palette and artful typography that’s integral to the design.
Nonfiction: Ocha Teacher, Author: Keiko Amano, Designer: James T. Egan of Bookfly Design
JF: A beautiful and sensitive cover for this memoir that centers around the author’s relationship with her mother. The visual perfectly evokes the tea ceremony, and the care put into the design is evident everywhere.
Fiction: Press F5 to Load Game, Author: LeVar Ravel, Designer: Irina French
JF: This one made me smile. A creative concept perfectly executed for this sci-fi/gamer story. Everything: the title, background, and woman, are fully integrated into the cover and its messaging. Memorable.
Nonfiction: A Little Bird Told Me, Author: Daniel van Straaten, Designer: Daniel van Straaten
JF: Just beautifully done, a sensitive cover that expresses its content and where the charming bird reaches out to the reader.
Fiction: DogStar, Author: Jez Campbell, Designer: Simon Avery
JF: Original and exciting, with great memorable artwork and a design that jumps off the page at you. A snarling beast of an ebook cover, and the other 2 books in this series are every bit as good.
Nonfiction: Everyone’s a Genius, Author: Jen Fraser, Designer: Jen Fraser
JF: Is that you on the ladder as well? I find the cover delightful and attractive. I want to peer into that illustration and there’s a fun energy about the whole thing. And I love the visual playfulness and illusions that are clever and apt, including the curling label, the ladder and the wall that becomes a canvas that becomes a background. I think I need this book.
Fiction: City of Fae, Author: Meredith Rich, Designer: Jenny Zemanek
JF: Distinctive typography and an illustration that’s both magnetic and textural at the same time produces everything you want in a cover like this: a mysterious woman, an urban setting, and intimations of mysteries yet to unfold. Lovely.
Nonfiction: Letters to Eden, Author: David Haber, Designer: Liz Merchant
JF: Simple, legible, charming, and with a clear path into your story. The title font’s style matches perfectly with the illustration, and the whole cover focuses us on the uphill climb of the rider. Nicely done.
Fiction: The Man Who Remembered the Moon, Author: David Hull, Designer: David Drummond
JF: Yes, many moons, my favorite being the silver crescent, and a great leap of creativity that typifies exceptional design communication. A real winner.
Nonfiction: Invasion: From the Armada to Hitler, Author: Frank McLynn, Designer: Maurizio Marotta
JF: A great concept brought brilliantly to life by the fantastic artwork. Works on every level, and even has a bit of cheekiness, too.
Fiction: Hardup, Author: J. Scott Matthews, Designer: James T. Egan of Bookfly Design
JF: Here the designer has integrated art and title into one whole. The screen on the busted phone says “A Comedy” and the background is heavily textured with realistic stains. Can’t think of an improvement for this sly cover for a “darkly comic” novel about the tech industry.
Nonfiction: Things I Have Posted on Facebook that Have Ticked Off My Friends, Author: Janet Walker, Designer: Ebook Launch
JF: Instantly attracts attention and delights you as you read through it. By that time, you’re hooked, and we can’t ask any more of an ebook cover, can we?
Fiction: If Angels Fall, Author: Rick Mofina, Designer: James T. Egan of Bookfly Design
JF: Compare the design mastery here with the many “get-a-photo-and-slap-some-type-on-it” covers submitted this month. Dramatic, with great intimations of the story to be found within, the purposeful focus that leads us to the action in the background, and a title treatment that integrates completely with the art. I feel like I’m floating into a city on fire, with all the urgency that implies. Doesn’t get much better in this genre.
Nonfiction: On Care for our Common Home, Author: Pope Francis, Designer: Tamian Wood
JF: This exquisite cover embodies the message of the book within, and the children’s hands communicate our duty to future generations. Combined with careful and classic typography, this is clearly a home run.
Fiction: Oliver & Jack: In Axminster Workhouse, Author: Christina E. Pilz, Designer: Bookfly Design
(Guest judge Thomas McGee) TM: The craftsmanship of this design is stunning. Every intricate detail makes this design not only accurate but intriguing as well.
Nonfiction: Gentleman of the Press: The Life and Times of an Early Reporter, Julian Ralph of the Sun, Author: Paul Lancaster, Designer: Dane & Brittany at EbookLaunch.com
(Guest judge Thomas McGee) TM: Simple, clean, classical, elegant and excellently implemented. Excellent design.
Fiction: The Keepsake, Author: Suzy Vitello, Designer: Kit Foster
JF: Exquisite, subtle, and very affecting. There’s a great dynamic between the classical composition and the asymmetric woman’s face that creates a powerful pull into the story.
Nonfiction: Closest to the Fire, Author: Karen Wyle, Designer: Elizabeth DiPalma
JF: Absolutely delightful, and the engraving with red typographic accents is perfect for this material.
Fiction: Eidolon, Author: Ruby Duvall, Designer: Dane Low
JF: Svelte and moody with the promise of some pretty naughty action. Pregnant with eroticism, almost begging us to just give in and submit to its charms.
Nonfiction: On Grief, Hope, and Motorcycles: A Diary, Author: Candiya Mann, Designer: Pete Garceau
JF: Poetic, elegant, and a bit scary all at the same time. Great use of a stock image, combined with the confident typography, it adds to the effect.
Fiction: Tabitha, Author: Vikki Kestell, Designer: DogEared Design
JF: Beautifully realized and completely integrated. The subtle border creates a frame for the composition, with the girl’s posture creating drama and the distant signs of conflict providing context. And the elegant type treatment perfectly completes this classic cover.
Nonfiction: Trading Places: Becoming My Mother’s Mother, Author: Sandra Bullock Smith, Designer: Fiona Jayde
JF: I agree, and it’s well balanced too, and everything tends to focus us on the heart and the hands at the center. Along with the many playful touches, the designer has kept us right where she wants us, focused on the central theme of the book.
So, which are your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
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