It’s the time of year when people seem to write lists, so here are my favourite book cover designs of 2014, generally grouped according to colour scheme – which is always the best way to arrange things:
David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks seems to be the epitome of everything book cover design was about this year. As much as independent booksellers have suffered from the advent of the eBook, I think that book design itself has benefitted as designers strive to create books so beautiful that they simply have to be owned in hardback. The Bone Clocks cover is as dazzling and bewildering as the novel itself. Colourful page edging also seems to be a thing, my current favourite colour is somewhere between cyan and teal and the designer used this colour to great effect on the page edges juxtaposed with a black, cerise pink and gold design on the cover.
Another blue and pink one, Toby Litt’s collection of interlinked short stories, Life-Like, portrays two damaged, distressed mannequins and beautifully transmits a theme of dysfunctional relationships, while the splashes of vibrant colour add a sense of humour and optimism to what could otherwise be a grim image.
The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, was inspired by a real miniature house in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and a complete miniature house was constructed and photographed for the cover of the novel, a labour of love that beautifully suits the content but is also in itself an intriguing, mysterious image. As far as I can remember (I have lent my copy to a friend) the hardback edition of this book also has those beautiful blue edges.
A particularly vibrant cerise pink (or magenta as graphic designers might call it) kept popping up this year and it is used to great effect in the title of Emily St John Mandel’s dystopian novel, Station Eleven. I love how the designer creates the effect of a negative image by using a white silhouetted design framing the cover.
I’d like to make special mention of The Emma Press who publish poetry books illustrated with wonderful whimsical images by the Editor, Emma Wright. (A panacea to the great tide of badly-photoshopped stock art image covers prevalent in indie publishing.) I particularly love the quirky woman with antlers pictured on the cover of Ikhda, by Ikhda, and there’s that pink again.
Not pink, but The Incarnations, by Susan Barker, was one of my favourite books published this year and I don’t think it received all the acclaim it deserved. The cover, designed by Good Wives and Warriors features a beautifully constructed, incredibly detailed illustration in black and gold, alluding to all the complicated facets and twists of the story.
The cover of Michael Faber’s latest novel, The Book of Strange New Things, has a twenties feel with an op-art-style creation of golden swirls and teardrops that makes you want to touch it. I haven’t read this one yet but I’m hoping the story lives up to the razzle-dazzle.
I love the slightly nostalgic, woodcut feel of Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk, it evokes retro nursery decor but the bold, black outlines are fierce and uncompromising. The design made me want to read the book long before it was nominated for any prizes.
The cover design of Nikesh Shukla’s Meatspace is this year’s Hawthorn & Child – a collaged image constructed of actual meat. It is an image that is, like the title, a bit gross but also strangely compelling.