Last year, we at The Bookseller tried to chronicle the best in UK book-cover design via an Instagram account containing what we reckoned to be the best bookish livery month to month. It was one arm of a new feature, PerfectBound, that sought to shine more light on design and production processes in the book trade. It's worth clarifying that the selections were drawn from our four monthly book previewers' columns—New Titles: Fiction, New Titles: Non-Fiction, Children's and Paperback previews—and thereby, a swathe of titles were precluded month to month. Many of those left out would have been reissues; many would be smaller publications; various other factors inform the previewers' picks, and I reckoned theirs to be the best broad yet curated selection of newly issued books from which to select our favourite designs. (Notably, it also means almost all US and overseas territories' jackets are absent. Fortunately the excellent The Casual Optimist and Spine magazine have you covered in that respect.) The columns' contents were then searched for online, and I selected around 30 jackets to post online each month.
We will retain that method, only in 2017 there are two further goals. First, to reach a wider readership in the shape of – well, monthly round-ups on theBookseller.com. It seems a shame to silo the result of such hard work into a social media hashtag and account with fairly limited scope; though we will continue to post the images there, too. And second, we hope to credit those responsible wherever we possibly can: that means art directors, designers, illustrators, photographers, etc. If physical books are to remain relevant and coveted, they must excel not simply as a text but as a package; astute and relevant design is a huge part of that, and those who practise it ought to be recognised. (Over Christmas, in Knopf associate art director Peter Mendelsund's Cover, I came across this passage from him, which forced the issue somewhat: “Book publishing may be one of the last businesses where the design department is not considered one of the most important constituencies in the room. This is super weird, and, frankly, wrong.”) We attempted this before, of course, but finding such information can be tough and circuitous, especially as our selections are made on-screen, rather than from physical editions that credit their creators. So if you work at a publisher and are able to supply us with that information, or are able to introduce us to someone who can, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and say hello.
So without further ado, here are some of our favourite liveries from January's UK publishing. Do let us know your thoughts, favourites, comments and/or suggestions. Enjoy.