Best of Book Covers 2012, Black Bread White Beer, Book Cover Design, Casual Vacancy, Hawthorn & Child, Hope: A Tragedy, Joy, Lightning Rods, NW, Swimming Home, Telegraph Avenue, The Lighthouse, The Teleportation Accident, Umbrella
Since this is the time of year for lists I thought I’d add my opinion on the best book covers of the year (published in the UK). With the rise of Indie publishing and the easy DIY cut-and-paste photographic options provided by stock art websites, the stand-out covers for me this year were primarily graphic illustrations with custom typefaces. In no particular order…
Umbrella by Will Self (Bloomsbury – August 2012)
This is one of my absolute favourites – a broken umbrella is a useless, pathetic object but in this context it is rendered iconic and beautiful. The monchromatic palette and subtle texture makes this cover stand out next to a slew of busy, brightly coloured books. The nostalgic slab-serif title alternately grips and fades behind the contour of the umbrella. Lovely.
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (Salt – August 2012)
Another Booker shortlisted book, the image is beautifully framed, the weight of the monolith is offset by the light-weight font and intersecting lines.
NW by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton – August 2012)
Iconic, instantly recognisable, almost hypnotic.
Joy by Jonathan Lee (William Heinemann – June 2012)
The exhuberance of the title word contrasts beautifully with the mundane materials that have been used to construct it – staples on an office folder.
Black Bread White Beer by Niven Govinden (The Friday Project – September 2012)
I love the hand-drawn, collaged effect. It’s hard to pull this off without making it look like a pre-school mess so I think the designer did a great job here.
Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt (And Other Stories – September 2012)
Honourable mention needs to be made of And Other Stories and their bold, graphic covers. The designs are not particularly exciting on an individual basis but together they create a very strong visual identity for the brand and, for my money, I think they did a better job on Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home, than Faber and Faber did with their generic ‘woman in swimming pool’ stock.
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (Little, Brown – September 2012)
And one that didn’t quite measure up to expectation – it has the fashionable bold graphic look and the customised type but somehow it lacks the personality of some of the designs above. Almost, but not quite.