In an era where books can exist along a spectrum of formats from e-books to apps to printed volumes, communication designers are exploring the craft of modern book design and the art of publishing.
The annual “AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers Competition” celebrates this by highlighting the most effective printed books and book covers.
Fifty publications were chosen specifically for their unexpected cover designs—including a holographic cover and a cookbook with no food pictured on the jacket—while book design as a whole was carefully considered for the other fifty selections, from the choice of type and paper to the binding, cover and overall format.
“There’s something to be said for the very tactile nature of a book,” noted AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefé. “Drawn in first by the cover, then its heft, the feel of its pages and the compositions of its spreads, viewing these selections is a welcome annual event. There is endless speculation on the future of books, but there are still written works that warrant the dimensionality and tactile experience of the physical object.”
The effort goes beyond memorializing a medium. “AIGA’s books competition serves to bring our attention to the creativity of the form—beyond the traditional format and expected components—as well as the role design plays in the effective communication of ideas,” added AIGA Exhibitions Director Gabriela Mirensky.
As a whole, these hundred examples of intriguing covers and stunning design and production indicate that the printed book is not going away—it’s evolving.
Selections from the competition are featured in a traveling exhibition, now on view through April 8 at the AIGA National Design Center in New York. Visitors outside of New York are encouraged to explore the selections in the AIGA Design Archives, a resource of design inspiration available to all.
“AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers” has long identified and celebrated the best work in the field. Selections are housed in the AIGA Design Archives online, and join the physical collections of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University and the Denver Art Museum.