Cover design round-up: April 2021

Cover design round-up: April 2021

Hello, and welcome to our selection of the best book jackets of April.

Huge congratulations to the 10 designers who were recently shortlisted for our Designer of the Year Nibbie, and just as importantly, a massive thank-you to all of those who entered. The response was fantastic and, as regular readers of this blog will probably expect, the standard of work was incredibly high—and broad. The winner will be announced in a virtual ceremony on 13th May, so you have plenty of time to read about them and admire their creations.

A few of those 10 designers' work feature in the April selection too, including Anna Morrison (three times, in fact) and Stuart Wilson (twice). There are also two fabulous covers from gray318, who co-runs the ABCD awards for the best in UK cover design, and was instrumental in the re-instation of the British Book Award for Designer of the Year, as was Donna Payne of Faber, who oversaw three of the jackets featured here. Huge thanks to them for all of their hard work, and for being such passionate advocates for the sector they represent so brilliantly. Thank you!

I also wanted to take a moment to flag a Twitter thread started by Books Covered this week, on a really important topic. Designers will hear the word "no" on an incredibly regular basis, so if you are in a position of nay-saying, there's no harm in making it a polite one—especially considering the times we are in. The thread also touches upon the subject of crediting designers for their work when it is being shared online. Many that I have spoken to in the sector are frustrated by this. The role of the jacket has of course changed in the era of social media and with the shift to online retail, and while it's a little OTT to suggest a designer is mentioned in every instance of a jacket being used, my feeling is that certainly when there is a 'cover reveal' post, it's remiss not to mention the person whose work you are revealing. Especially when the thrust of the post is how beautiful/gorgeous/sumptuous/etc and so on said jacket is. Again, considering the times we are living in, it's worth bearing in mind that a great number of the brilliant designers in the UK industry are freelance, and if a hundreds- or thousands-shared post from a publisher draws even one potential client to that freelancer's portfolio, I'm sure they will thank you for it. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all that.

Enjoy the best of April!

Until next time...



Fourth Estate's cover for Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innis was designed by Jack Smyth. The jacket for Robert Winder's Soft Power, published by Abacus, was designed by Steve Leard.



gray318 designed the cover for Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas, a title due from Canongate. In Search of Mycotopia by Doug Bierend was designed by under the art direction of Patricia Stone, and it will be issued by Chelsea Green.



Mizuki Tsujimura's Lonely Castle in the Mirror was designed by Anna Morrison, for Doubleday. Jack Smyth, once again, designed The Pay Off by Gottfried Leibbrandt and Natasha de Teran. That number was art-directed by Pippa Crane for publisher Elliott & Thompson.



Three from Faber & Faber are up next: Chris Power's A Lonely Man, and Leone Ross' This One Sky Day are the first two. They were designed by Jonathan Pelham and Peter Adlington respectively.



The third Faber title, Excavate!, edited by Tessa Norton and Bob Stanley, was designed by Stuart Bertolotti-Bailey. Today I'm Strong by Nadiya Hussain was illustrated by Ella Bailey for Hodder Children's; we don't as yet have a design or art director credited here, so if you do know, please do reach out.



Another Jack Smyth creation is Jean Kyoung Frazier's Pizza Girl, for HQ, with art direction from Kate Oakley. Julia Cooke's Come Fly the World, an Icon Books, er, book, hasn't yet been credited. As before, please do reach out if you know.



Jamie Keenan designed Man Hating Psycho by Iphgenia Baal, an Influx Press title, using photographs taken by the author. Maclehose Press' jacket for Daniela Krien's Love in Five Acts uses a painting by the artist Eric Zener, and lettering by Andrew Smith.



Lorna Scobie designed My Dad is a Grizzly Bear, with illustrations from Dapo Adeola, for Macmillan Children's Books. The author is Swapna Haddow. Once again, designer unknown for Mudlark's edition Tapestries of Life by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson.



Nosy Crow's Waiting for Murder, by Fleur Hitchcock, was designed and lettered by Ray Tierney, with artwork by Robert Ball. We have no idea who designed I, Nerd by Max Sydney Smith but it is wonderful.



A pair of Stuart Wilson's designs are up next, for Pan and Picador respectively. They are The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams (part of a fabulous series rejacketing for its 42nd year—do check it out), and Dima Alzayat's Alligator & Other Stories.



Prestel cookbook To Asia, with Love by Hetty McKinnon was designed by Daniel New, with typesetting by Hannah Schubert. And Puffin's Barbara Throws a Wobbler, by Nadia Shireen, who illustrated the jacket and title too, was designed by Steph Jones, with art direction from Keren Greenfeld.



Perumal Murugan's The Story of a Goat was designed by Becca Fox, and illustrated by Natalia Andreychenko, for Pushkin. Mark Diacono's Herb: A Cook's Companion (Quadrille) is a real beauty: designed and art directed by Matt Cox, with illustration by Tatiana Boyko. There's also a blind deboss of another herb, not visible in the jpeg, and a lovely textured cover on it too. Sounds like one to check out IRL when bookshops reopen. 



Molly Baz's Cook This Book (Prestel) is an uncredited design at this writing. Anna Morrison designed Scribe's edition of Higher Ground by Anke Stelling.



Harry Haysom, with art direction from Peter Dyer, created the jacket for James Clarke's Hollow in the Land (Serpent's Tail), while How to be an Anti-Capitalist in the 21st Century was designed by No Ideas for Verso. That title is authored by Erik Olin Wright.



gray318 created this fabulous 40th anniversary edition of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children for Vintage, while Anna Morrison designed The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym. The latter was written by Paula Byrne, for publisher William Collins.