Wednesday, 29 December 2010

My Favourite Book Covers of 2010

I have mentioned before on The Book Zone that I teach Design Technology, and most of my teaching timetable focuses on teaching Graphic Products at GCSE and A-Level. In fact some of my A Level students are currently designing book covers and promotional materials for several unpublished writers that I have made contact with through Twitter, and later in the year I hope to be able to reveal to you the fruits of their labours. It worries me that as ebooks become more and more popular the need for a good book cover to grab the attention of the reader will begin to wane, which I think will be a terrible shame. A good book cover should make a potential reader WANT to read the book before they have even read the blurb, but it should not be misleading and should be a good reflection of the book's content.

To create a Top Ten list would have been quite easy for me, but instead I wanted to highlight the book covers that are, in my opinion at least, the best of the best, and so I wanted to limit myself to a very difficult Top Five. However, this proved to be so difficult that I cheated and so here are my Top Six book covers of 2010:

And so, kicking us off at Number 6 we have Crawlers by Sam Enthoven

Credit for this gloriously creepy cover goes to Rhys Willson, the in-house designer at RHCB. Supposedly he used a slightly mashed squid that he bought from the fish-market to create his vision of what a Crawler would look like.

At Number 5: Raggy Maggie by Barry Hutchison

This is my favourite cover of the Invisible Fiends series so far (including the soon to be released The Crowmaster), although I have seen a close-up of the fourth book in the series, Doc Mortis, and illustrator Jonny Duddle has come pretty close to beating his Raggy Maggie cover. I am still hoping and praying that one day HarperCollins will commission a set of action figures based on the series - if they do I will be first in the queue for a Raggy Maggie and Caddie toy (maybe I will try to make my own in 2011).

At Number 4: Trash by Andy Mulligan

You really need to see the cover of this book in real life to truly appreciate the beauty of Richard Collingbridge's artwork. However, if you do not have a copy to hand then click the above image to see it in super-large size. Trash is a heartwarming story about a group of children who have grown up living on one of the huge trash heaps such as are found in cities like Rio de Janeiro and the cover perfectly captures the tone of the story.

Number 3: Lockdown: Escape From Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith (US version)

Lockdown, the first book in the Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith, has been out for some time in the UK. However, 2010 saw its debut in the US, with a cover that is, in my opinion, far superior to the UK covers, and also far more indicative of the menacing theme of the story. Credit for this awesome design goes to Christian Fuenfhausen. Christian is the designer for all of the covers of the US editions, my complete favourite being the cover he did for Death Sentence which you can see here, although I understand that this has now been changed to a different design.

Number 2: Mortlock by Jon Mayhew

The cover illustration by Christian Lorenz Scheurer for Jon Mayhew's victorian horror masterpiece is a perfect representation of the dark horror themes within the story. If you are a teen horror fan I would imagine you would find it very difficult not to pick this book up off a shelf based on the cover alone. 

And at Number 1: Blood Ninja by Nick Lake

I first saw this cover in the Corvus Books online catalogue and I fell in love with it immediately. Months later I still love the striking red on black image that Orlando based designer Hydro74 (aka Joshua M Smith) has created for the book, which is set in 16th Century Japan. Everything about this book cover is right - the embossed image, the colours, the typefaces used, all complemented by the black edged pages to create the perfect package for a great vampire/ninja story. Sometimes I have to box books up to create room for new favourites - this is one that will never be hidden away and will always sit on my bookshelf. 


  1. The Crawlers cover is freaky. At least it made me stop and look, I suppose.

  2. I agree! It makes my skin, well, crawl!

  3. Mortlock for me! Great choices -and interesting to know more about the DT perspective.

  4. What I love most about the Crawlers cover is its simplicity - some bloke went to a fish market, bought a squid, slapped it on the back of someone's neck, and took a photo with some clever use of shadow. Then with a little bit of photoshop you have a cover that will get boys all over the country dying to know what goes on inside the book.

    KM: Some people are surprised when I tell them I teach DT, as they assume because of the reading and the blog that I am an English teacher. My favourite subjects at school wete English and CDT (as it was called then), but I ended up studying to be a civil engineer at university and graduated at the time of the 1993 slump. Teaching had far more appeal than engineering though, and with my engineering background DT was the only real option open to me (ok, maybe maths or physics but I hated those and there was no way I would have the passion to inspire kids to enjoy them).

  5. I never really liked the cover for Crawlers! I know it's simplstic but what about the witchfinders cover (the new one forgot the name :)!)???