Welcome back to The Bookseller's pick of the best book cover designs of the month, last seen in February 2018. It's been a while, but with the recent announcement that the British Book Awards would reprise its Designer of the Year award for the 2021 event (applications are open, with details here), what better time to celebrate the output of UK publishers?
As before, the books are chosen from the monthly lists compiled by our book previewers, spanning nearly 1,000 titles in a "normal" month. These are then whittled down, and our favourite 30 covers are selected. The aim is twofold: firstly to toast the excellence of the book design sector, and secondly to encourage those sharing book covers online to give due credit to those who have created them. When we spoke to the winners of the most recent Academy of British Cover Design awards, a number of them cited this as a frustration in the sector. Perhaps it should be a trade-wide New Year's resolution to remedy that in 2021.
So without further ado, here are some of the cover design highlights of January 2021. Happy new year!
First up we have a pair of titles from Canongate. Mrs Death Misses Death, by Salena Gadden, was designed in-house by Gill Heeley, while Courttia Newland's A River Called Time was designed (also in-house) by Valeri Rangelov, using an illustration by Joe van Wetering.
Carcanet's Andrew Latimer designed its minimal cover for The Earliest Witnesses by G C Waldrep, while The Unstable Boys by Nick Kent was designed by Jack Smyth, with art direction from Bekki Guyatt.
A pair from Corsair are next: Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett, and Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk. Arnett's book was designed by Sophie Harris, with — in what is almost certainly a first for us — a taxidermy credit for Amanda's Autopsies. Palahniuk's title was designed and illustrated by Tree Abraham.
It's a Faber & Faber duo next, both of which were designed in-house by Jonny Pelham. His covers are for Hurdy Gurdy by Christopher Wilson and Britain Alone by Philip Stephens.
Ellen Rockwell designed and illustrated Fleet's edition of We Swim to the Shark, written by Georgie Codd. And the paperback edition of Jeff Vandermeer's Dead Astronauts, issued by Fourth Estate, uses the illustration of Alycia Rainaud, also known as Maalavidaa. It's a rework of Jo Walker's hardback cover, which was an ABCD winner this year.
Jo Walker also designed Granta's cover for Jenny Offill's Weather, while over in children's, the livery for Adam Baron's This Wonderful Thing was illustrated by Benji Davies, and worked on by designers in-house. The latter is published by HarperCollins Children's Books
The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood was designed for HQ by Charlotte Philipps, who also illustrated the cover. Influx Press' release Cockfight, by Maria Fernanda Ampuero, was designed by Sukruti Anah Staneley.
Evi O Studio created the cover for Ching-He Huang's cookbook Asian Green, while the designer of Barry Schechter's Useless Miracle, published in the UK by Melville House, was Marina Drukman.
Katie Tooke designed Jean-Claude Grumberg's The Most Precious of Cargoes (Picador), using a woodcut created by Valerie Lueth, of Tugboat Printshop. The designer of the Point Blank publication Mrs Mohr Goes Missing, by Maryla Szymiczkowa, was Tom Sanderson.
Tamzin Merchant's The Hatmakers (Puffin) was illustrated by Paola Escobar, designed and art-directed by Emily Smyth; with additional nods to Puffin art director Jacqui McDonough and group art director Anna Billson. Stewart Foster's The Perfect Parent Project (Simon & Schuster Children's UK) was designed and illustrated by Thy Bui, under the art direction of Jesse Green.
Lewis Csizmazia designed and illustrated Barry Meier's Spooked, for Sceptre, while Yeti Lambregts designed Naomi Ishiguro's Escape Routes for Tinder Press.
Katharine Millichope designed A Vanishing of Griffins by S A Patrick, using illustration from George Ermos and lettering from Leo Nickolls. The cover was art directed by Mary Cartwright for Usborne. Verso's Share the Wealth, written by Philippe Askenazy, was desigend by Tamara Shopsin.
A further two titles from Verso feature here: Andreas Malm's How to Blow Up a Pipeline, and Mark Neocleous' A Critical Theory of Police Power. They were designed by Chantal Jahchan and Keith Dodds respectively.
Luke Bird designed The Death of Jesus by J M Coetzee for Vintage, deploying a photograph by Deb Schwedhelm. Weidenfeld & Nicolson's release The Octopus Man, written by Jasper Gibson, was designed and illustrated by Arneaux, with art direction from Steve Marking.
Our final two titles are both Walker Books publications: I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith (who illustrated the cover); and Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. Jennifer Browne designed Scott and Smith's title, while Thomas' novel was designed by Laurissa Jones, with art direction from Ben Norland. The photography is the work of Melissa Alcena, and the lettering is by Nancy Leschnikoff.