The Book Cover Design Awards

The inaugural Book Cover Design Awards were launched this month by two of the UK’s leading book designers, Jon Gray and Jamie Keenan. Aiming to celebrate book cover design from a wide range of genres, it is now open for nominations from 2013

The inaugural Book Cover Design Awards were launched this month by two of the UK’s leading book designers, Jon Gray and Jamie Keenan. Aiming to celebrate book cover design from a wide range of genres, it is now open for nominations from 2013…

The intriguingly-named Academy of British Cover Designers was initially set up by Gray and Keenan with the intention of promoting a broader range of cover design than currently features in awards schemes, magazines and blogs. Its associated Book Cover Design Awards aims to cement this further with a new competition to find the best work created in ten publishing categories:

Children’s, Young Adult, SciFi/Fantasy, Mass Market, Literary Fiction, Crime/Thriller, Non-fiction, Series Design, Classic/Reissue and Women’s Fiction.

Gray says that book cover design is quite a different beast to the bulk of graphic design – employing “unwritten rules of genre and hierarchy” – and an awards scheme dedicated to the discipline would have a better appreciation of the demands made upon individual books.

“We have to use quotes and make them large; we have to mention prizes, shortlists, author’s previous books,” he says. “There is a lot of information to be conveyed in a small space. Managing that and still creating something new is difficult. Getting that through a publishing house, an author, an agent and a supermarket, all of whom have their own ideas is even harder.

“It means that when it comes to design awards the work often just doesn’t fit. If it’s judged using the same criteria as an art book with two lines of carefully spaced, minute Helvetica, then it doesn’t really stand a chance.”

The first BCDA competition will be open to any cover produced by a British designer for a book published between January 1 and December 31 2013.

Book covers will be voted for only by fellow cover designers – “the people who know the restrictions that the work is created under,” adds Gray. “They appreciate the sometimes tiny details that make one thriller cover better than another, or a children’s cover that tries to break out of its genre. Work that generally goes unnoticed but we think deserves recognition.”

And the awards itself? “It won’t be a glitzy thing,” says Gray, “just a few designers in a pub with a projector. Which we think sort of sums up book designers nicely.”

Further details on entering work will be announced via the @abcoverD twitter and Gray’s blog at gray318.com/blog. Designers will be able to enter their own work or the work of other designers. Entry is free.

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