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This has been an exhausting year for oh so, so many reasons, but book covers remained a bright spot for me in 2018. 

As always, my end-of-year list collects together the covers that I found interesting or noteworthy in some way or another in the past 12 months. It is organized alphabetically by title and grouped by designer (because that makes sense to me when I’m compiling the list). 

In terms of trends, there were a lot of hot orange book covers this year. Stark black, white and red covers were popular for non-fiction. Stars and stripes featured heavily too (I refuse to do a post about this!). Snakes seemed to be a thing!

Typographically, big white sans serifs are still a go-to. And hand-lettering and handwriting are still going strong. But retro typefaces, particularly big serifs with swishy swashes, are making a comeback. 

Thanks as always to everyone who has supported the blog this year, especially the folks who have taken the time to help with cover images and design credits. I’m sorry for the many, many the emails I have not replied to this year, and for all the covers, designers, and publishers I have overlooked. 


Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya; design by Stephanie Ross (Knopf / March 2018)

Stephanie Ross’s cover for Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Jane Sherron De Hart, published by Knopf in October, also caught my eye this year. 


Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore by Emma Southon; design by Mark Ecob (Unbound / August 2018)


America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo; design by Gray318 (Atlantic Books / May 2018)

Also designed by Gray318:

(I got to visit Jon in his studio this summer, which was nice.)


Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald; design David Pearson (Penguin / June 2018)

Also designed by David Pearson:

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Tom Gauld for The Guardian.

For some reason the Samuel Beckett Advent Calendar reminds me of the Half Man Half Biscuit song Joy Division Oven Gloves. 

Tom has a new postcard book The Snooty Bookshop out now. 

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Graphic designer and book cover designer Paul Sahre talks about his work and his recent memoir, Two-Dimensional Man, with Debbie Millman on Design Matters

Design Matters with Debbie Millman: Paul Sahre - SoundCloud
(3631 secs long, 2076 plays)Play in SoundCloud

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In the latest episode of Vox’s Earworm video series, producer Estelle Caswell takes a look at the classic record covers of the jazz label Blue Note designed by Reid Miles and frequently featuring the photographs of Francis Woolf:  

The greatest album covers of jazz - YouTube

(via Michael Bierut)

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I’ve been thinking about covers that feature one form of redacted text or another for a while, but this post has been sitting in my drafts folder gestating for far too long so I’m publishing now, as-is, because otherwise it is unlikely to ever see the light of day! 

The covers of Censoring an Iranian Love Story, designed by Peter Mendelsund, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, designed by David Pearson, are classics of the genre:

I thought that this kind of bar redaction (is there a technical term for it?) might be a relatively new — post-The 9-11 Commission Report — phenomena, but (friend of the blog) Richard Weston, AKA Acejet170, recently posted this 1974 Penguin cover for Academic Freedom by Anthony Arblaster, designed by Omnific, on Instagram:

In a lovely design touch, the redacted words appear on the back cover:

Related to bar redaction is the strike-through. One of my favourite examples is Barnbrook‘s cover design for How to Run a Government by Michael Barber, published by Allen Lane. 

How to Run a Government by Michael Barber; design by Barnbrook (Allen Lane / March 2015)

I’ve been seeing the straight strike-through used a lot recently. It does a neat job of doing two things at once. It allows you to not say something, while also emphasizing that you are pointedly not saying it.   

I’ve seen it mostly used for nonfiction (as above), but Janet Hansen recently used the strike for the cover of Amitava Kumar’s novel Immigrant, Montana

Immigrant, Montana by Amitava Kumar; design Janet Hansen (Knopf / July 2018)

Black text on a white background with a red strike-through is its own sub-genre:

In fact, using red — be it more artistic blocks, strikeouts or scribbles — is a popular way to highlight what is being crossed out:

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I am a little late on this, but AIGA and Design Observer recently announced the winners of 50 Books | 50 Covers for 2017. This year’s jury consisted of Rodrigo Corral, Carin Goldberg, Maricris Herrera, and Jessica Helfand. The 50 books are here; the 50 covers here.

My 2017 covers list, which, admittedly, has something of a different scope, can be found here.

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