The 50 Most Beautiful Book Covers Will Be A Book

by Caitlin White

This new project will make you love judging a book by its cover. Design Observer's "50 Books / 50 Covers" Kickstarter will publish a "book of books," celebrating the most beautiful book covers over the year. In an era when digital content is quickly infiltrating the world of design and literature, "50 Books / 50 Covers" will be produced into a 300-page print book. The book will also be part of a traveling exhibition to showcase the 2015 winners of the book cover design competition. Trust me, this one book will seriously accelerate your coffee table game — just don't get your wine glass ring stains on it.

"50 Books / 50 Covers" book cover design competition has been running continuously for 92 years — making it the longest running design competition in the United States. However, this marks the first time the winning covers will be showcased in a print book, rather than just online, since Design Observer succeeded the American Institute of Graphic Arts as manager of the competition. Design Observer says on its Kickstarter page that this book will not only celebrate the incredible designs and the talented winners, but hard-copy books themselves, calling them the "first hand-held devices."

Scattered throughout this post will be just some of the book covers that won the "50 Books / 50 Covers" competition in 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

Books range from literary fiction to memoir, art and design compilations to children's books. The only criteria is they do something unique, exciting, or just straight up stunning with the cover.

This celebratory Kickstarter campaign was spearheaded by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and Design Observers’s founding editor Jessica Helfand, two incredibly respected voices in the world of design.

Hundreds of books are nominated every year in the "50 Books / 50 Covers" competition, and it's up to Hefland to narrow down the choices to 50 winners. As difficult as it is, Hefland said, she has her priorities straight when it comes to judging.

"What’s the book that’s going to make me happy? That’s my criterion," Helfand said to Quartz.

Hefland also spoke about the unique role of graphic designers in the book publishing process. They act as translators, she said to Quartz, synthesizing "information from authors, editors, publishers, critics, investors, and researchers."

“It sounds like fun, but it’s a tremendous amount of work,” she added.

There's bonus news with this Kickstarter, especially for McSweenys fans: Dave Eggers, who previously won the "50 Books / 50 Covers" contest himself, will write an introduction for the printed book.

And though this contest is all about book covers, respected author and book photographer George Baier IV will photograph every book, inside and out to give readers (and those who love design) a deeper look into the winners.

While the money raised of course will support the book's printing and traveling showcase, it's important to Design Observer that it also supplement the costs of submitting your book cover for judgement.

"Why do we need your support? Two reasons. First, and most importantly, we want to keep the entry fees as low as possible," the Kickstarter page states. "We reduced the fee dramatically when we took over the competition, and think that lower fees mean that more people have the opportunity to enter."

The Kickstarter campaign, which ends Thursday, already surpassed its $45,000 goal, and you can anticipate the book's release for October.

That doesn't mean you have to stop donating, however. Design Observer has said it's committed to continuing its focus on books and literature through this contest, its new publishing imprint Observer Editions, and its new journal Observer Quarterly.

"We believe that books matter," it states on Kickstarter. "We want to put these books in as many hands as possible, and we need your help."

Image: Kickstarter