The Academy of British Cover Design, better known as ABCD, hosted its fourth annual awards last night (2nd March) in Hoxton, east London, with Vintage creative director Suzanne Dean and Simon & Schuster’s Jack Smyth taking home two awards apiece.
Dean picked up the Series Design prize for her rejacketing of Virginia Woolf’s oeuvre, using illustration by Aino-Maija Metsola, as well as the Literary Fiction award for her art-direction of The Start of Something: The Selected Stories of Stuart Dybek (illustrated by Marion de Man). Smyth’s triumphs came in mass-market, for Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman (Little, Brown), and non-fiction, for The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman (Corsair).
In the six other fields, children’s was won by Oliver Jeffers for his reimagining of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Doubleday Children's); classics/reissue was won by Jamie Keenan for his interpretation of Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds and Other Stories (Virago); crime/thriller was won by design studio Blacksheep with Maestra, written by L S Hilton (Zaffre Publishers); sci-fi/fantasy was won by Nathan Burton with his cover design for Catherine M Valente’s Radiance (Corsair); women’s fiction went to Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (Hogarth), designed by Kris Potter; and young adult was awarded to Sinem Erkas for her work on The Memory Book by Lara Avery (Quercus Children's Books).
The awards, run by freelance designers Jamie Keenan and Jon Gray, invited submissions from across the industry (self-published and digital-only titles are permitted) and, for the first time in its four-year history, the number of entries this year surpassed 1,000. Though each category’s finalists showed disparate and often unexpected aesthetics, a number of individual designers were in contention for numerous awards: Smyth led the field, with four nods, while design studio La Boca had three compositions in the running, as did Burton and Keenan; Dean was shortlisted twice for her own efforts, and a third project she worked on—the 3D Vintage Futures series—was also up for the Series Design award. Other designers with multiple finalists included Gray; Little, Brown’s Ceara Elliot; freelances Harry Haysom and Leo Nickolls; Matthew Young of Penguin; and studio Blacksheep.
The designs were adjudicated by a 10-strong committee, comprising: Richard Bravery (senior designer at Penguin); Thames & Hudson duo Clare Turner and Johanna Neurath; Bloomsbury’s assistant art director Greg Heinimann; Oneworld art director James Jones; Nick Stearn, art director at Bonnier Zaffre; Hachette Children’s creative director Sophie Stericker; Pan Macmillan senior designer Jo Thomson; and freelance designers Sinem Erkas and David Pearson. Each judge selected their favourite covers in 10 categories, creating the genres’ respective finalists, which were unveiled on the evening for attendees to choose (anonymously, via ballot) the overall winners, pictured below.