Top Shelf is a book cover design award dispenser for the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association), and last week they just announced their 2016 winners. In this post I wanted to offer some brief observations about their selections. Note that they list their criteria as:
- Its appropriateness for the market
- It level of conceptual thinking
- Its quality of execution
These are fine criteria by which to judge a book, although the first will unavoidably limit creativity and originality. However, for the sake of sales, it’s an important one that publishers can’t ignore and will obviously want to prioritize. That’s because book cover designs should resonate with the genre and have basic commonalities with other works in the market. This draws customers to those covers, likely resulting in their picking up the book (or clicking through), which increases the likelihood that they’ll purchase it.
Overall, Top Shelf did a good job at selecting the winners, although several of them, including A Very Different Christmas, KJV Credal Bible, Pressing Pause, and Street God seem to lack originality.
Celebrating the Saints is a fresh application of a concept seen regularly in graphic design, and for this reason should rank high on this list. Conscience is a also a neat concept, mixing geometric lines with clear and clean design.
Which Covers Will Help their Books Sell Best
Of all these cover designs, several stand out as having a high likelihood of helping convert to a sale. Of course this depends also on where the book is placed and relative to what other products, whether on a shelf in a store or in an ecommerce space.
Celebrating the Saints uses a bold red with a recognizable face on the cover (Jesus), so it will likely intrigue customers. Create vs. Copy has good contrast by having a white background with bold, red type in its title. The Holman Rainbow Study Bible has great contrast and use of color by using that many colors on a solid black background. Finally, Silence & Beauty will likely capture people’s attention since it uses subtle characters in a non-English language.
The Covers with Least Amount of Lasting Impacting
Without mentioning specific designs, some stand out as probably not adding enough value to the book. Some concepts that are likely considered cliché and already appear dated would be ones that use mixed typography and hand-drawn foliage elements. Another concept that lacks originality (but doesn’t necessarily equate with poor design) is one that lays type on top of stock photography.
Some on this list rightly belong here, while others may have sneaked on at the expense of others that were released this year. The 2015 awards list had some notable winners, especially The Biggest Story.