Just as you become ill at the thought of reading another one, I present to you... a list of lists! But wait! This one highlights the best of the best. After scouring through a few of the best lists of book cover accolades for 2011, here are the hits and misses of each posting.
1. The Flavorwire List
Left: The 1Q84 cover made it on to most of the best book cover lists. Really? I just don't get it. Chip Kidd, I love you man, but let's get over the idea that the guy is the Midas of book covers. Right: The designer for Jamrach's Managerie, John Gray, has my vote for Book Cover King.
Left: The American Masculine book cover is shameless in its attempt to be... very masculine. That could have been so much fun! How amazing would this cover have been if the layout stayed the same, but the design was executed by someone like Graham Erwin? Right: Maps are so extremely beautiful, so maybe the Map Head cover has an unfair advantage, but what I love most about this cover is the clever placement of the subtitle in the map's Key.
Left: The Typist cover is so predictable (I prefer the similar Lolita cover from a few years ago). A pretty woman, cropped, void of any charachteristics that give her life. I appreciate the matching of the lettering to her lips, but while that concept is nice, the cover plays it way too safe. Right: The Uncoupling cover made it on to most of the book cover lists. I agree with them all! This cover is perfect: fresh, crisp, and abstract enough to make you engage with the designer's choices. The cover makes you want to pick up the darn book. This concept of using photographs of minatures has been used many times before, (see this other 2011 beauty of a cover). But the composite feel of the colors, type, and image make this book cover the most successful.
Left: Three trends that have dominated the design world in the last three years: the color yellow, birds, and human-animal hybrids. The problem with the Sara Gran cover is that it competes with all the other bird themed band posters and cover art. The use of a different illustrator (Sandra Diekmann anyone?) and a slightly tweaked color pallete would have made this cover fly high above the competition. Right: The Helen Oyeyemi cover takes a tired image and finds something interesting in the mashup.
Left: I can't read the title. Right: I hate baseball, but I want to read the book because the title looks so damn FINE.
Title: Coolest Book Covers 2011, The Year's Best So Far (from June, 2011)
Left: I get it. The Cut cover is supposed to be minimalistic, it matches the very short and snappy name, right? But doesn't the Lit cover from last year cut to the point with little bit more creativity? Right: As far as the Periodic Tales cover goes, I imagine the designer pouring over possible images and then finding... this one. The most perfect one. An old, gorgeously rendered, vintage image that can be perfectly repurposed. I bet the designer of Swamplandia felt a similar jolt of cosmic luck.
7. The Hensher Creative List
Water illustrated left. Water illustrated right. I love both of these covers (The Hensher Creative list wins at picking the best covers for the year). The cover on the right wins because it is simply one of my absolute favorites of 2011. End of story.
8. The Readings ListLeft: Boring font. Boring image. This cover could front about 100 books successfully. It sets a certain mood, but does not pull in the potential reader. Right: Boring font made to look fantastic when flipped. Amazing illustration. See where a little imagination can get you? The cover for August is by Guy Shield. I love him. If there was an award for best young book cover artist, he would get it. Read this interview with him on designing the August cover here.
Take Away Reading: The Guardian looks at how book design gained momentum in 2011.