The idea for the 50 Books/50 Covers competition was born more than 90 years ago, when AIGA celebrated the design of the top “Fifty Books of 1923” in an exhibition that was so well received we decided to spin it off into an annual contest. Ever since then, 50 Books/50 Covers has sought out and awarded the most excellent book cover designs each year, as chosen by a distinguished jury of design peers.

Over the decades, it has grown into one of the profession’s most beloved competitions. Past selections have been added to the AIGA Design Archives as well as the physical archives at the Denver Art Museum and in Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at the Butler Library. Since 2011, the competition has been managed by Design Observer, and we join them now in commending this year’s winners.

The winning covers are as varied as the book topics presented here (everything from historical fiction and retrospectives to memoirs and cookbooks), but after perusing the winners, a few “trends” stood out. While you should obviously head to Design Observer to see all the winners for yourself, here’s a quick preview:

Wordless covers

Further reading:

Covers with only words

Blackout and crossed-out words

Die-cut covers

Further reading:


And for fun, covers that require 3D glasses

“Brave New World”
“Brave New World,” designers: Scot Bendall, Richard Carey