In a rapidly changing industry, designers explore the boundaries of book design

AIGA's “50 Books/50 Covers Competition” selections show the changing nature of visual communication design in publishing

NEW YORK—January 20, 2011.In an era where books can exist along a spectrum of formats from e-books to apps to printed volumes, today's communication designers are exploring the craft of modern book design and the art of publishing. The annual “AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers Competition” celebrates this by highlighting the most effective printed books and book covers.

Photo of the "50 Books/50 Covers" exhibition in New York

The exhibition at AIGA, designed by Triboro.

Fifty publications were chosen specifically for their unexpected cover designs—including a holographic cover and a cookbook with no food pictured on the jacket—while book design as a whole was carefully considered for the other fifty selections, from the choice of type and paper to the binding, cover and overall format.

“There's something to be said for the very tactile nature of a book,” noted AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefé. “Drawn in first by the cover, then its heft, the feel of its pages and the compositions of its spreads, viewing these selections is a welcome annual event. There is endless speculation on the future of books, but there are still written works that warrant the dimensionality and tactile experience of the physical object.”

The exhibition catalogue, available from Blurb

The exhibition catalogue, available at Blurb.

But simply memorializing a medium isn't AIGA's intention. “AIGA's books competition serves to bring our attention to the creativity of the form—beyond the traditional format and expected components—as well as the role design plays in the effective communication of ideas,” added AIGA Exhibitions Director Gabriela Mirensky.

As a whole, these hundred examples of intriguing covers and stunning design and production indicate that the printed book is not going away—it's evolving.


Browse the new print-on-demand catalogue

AIGA is publishing a new catalogue chronicling each of the year's book and book cover design selections along with jurors' comments, a worthy addition to any book lover's library. Created with Presenting Sponsor Blurb—the creative publishing platform that enables anyone to design, publish, promote, and sell their own book—the catalogue is now available for preview and purchase online.

See the exhibition in New York this winter

Selections from the competition are featured in a traveling exhibition, now on view through April 8 at the AIGA National Design Center in New York. Visitors outside of New York are encouraged to explore the selections in the AIGA Design Archives, a resource of design inspiration available to all.

About the competition

The only comprehensive survey of its kind, “AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers” has long identified and celebrated the best work in the field. Selections are housed in the AIGA Design Archives online, and join the physical collections of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University and the Denver Art Museum.

About AIGA

AIGA is the professional association for design, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing design as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force. Founded in 1914, AIGA today serves more than 22,000 members through 66 chapters and 200 student groups throughout the United States. AIGA stimulates thinking about design, demonstrates the value of design and empowers the success of designers at each stage of their careers. Learn more at

For further information, please contact:Jennifer Bender
AIGA | the professional association for design
Tel 212 710 3136 Fax 212 807 1799