50 Books | 50 Covers

This time-honored competition aims to identify the 50 best-designed books and book covers. With 696 entries from 36 countries, the juror-selections from this year's 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020 competition exemplify the best current work from a year marked by unparalleled change.

Winners Announced! 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020
50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020 Winner. Interior spread of a book using photography as illustration. The image is a portrait woven with blue and white fabric. Title of the books is Kyle Meyer: Interwoven.

Winners Announced!

Image: Interior spread from Kyle Meyer: Interwoven by Radius Books

View the Gallery

What. A. Year. Books became our best friends as we curled up near the fireplace seeking comfort in something familiar. We celebrate the best of the best designs that drew us into the written pages.

Gail Anderson

50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020 Jury Chair

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Meet the Jurors

Portrait of Gail Anderson by Nir Arieli

Jury Chair

Gail Anderson

Portrait of Jennifer Morla

Jennifer Morla

Portrait of Paul Sahre

Paul Sahre

Portrait of Kelly Walters

Kelly Walters

About AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers

This survey of book design represents perhaps the longest-standing legacy in American graphic design. Beginning in 1923, the Fifty Books of the Year competition was a yearly mainstay of AIGA. As dust jackets became more common, covers were added to the competition. AIGA is delighted to usher in another year of amazing book and cover design.

Even in an era of digital books and Insta stories, AIGA understands the timeless, magnetic power of design to engage readers and encourage them to turn the page. That is why the AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers competition continues to recognize the best of book and book cover design from around the world. Selections from past competitions have been added to the AIGA Design Archives—one of the richest online resources available to those who practice, study, and appreciate great design—as well as the physical archives at the Denver Art Museum (1980–2012) and at the RBML at Columbia University's Butler Library in New York City. From 2012–2018 Design Observer hosted the competition with AIGA through a joint venture and winners can be seen on Design Observer (2011–2017). Recent winner galleries include: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2018, and 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2019, and this year's 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020.

Competition Details

    Entry Fees
    (per book)

    Early Deadline:
    February 8, 2021

    Final Deadline:
    February 18, 2021

    AIGA Members

    $55

    $80

    Nonmembers

    $85

    $110

    If work is selected by the jurors, entrants will be notified in May 2021.

    Juror selections will be published on the competition website. Physical copies will be housed at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University's Butler Library (RBML) for future generations to enjoy.

    Visit contact information and FAQs. Office hours for support are 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. EST (Monday-Friday).

    View the online gallery of completed entries.


    Great book design is the conceptual structure that captures and illuminates the editorial content of the author.

    Jennifer Morla

    50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020 Juror

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    The exciting part about opening any new book for the first time is the power it has to influence your relationship to typography or images—by its placement, position or scale on a single page.

    Kelly Walters

    50 Books | 50 Covers of 2020 Juror

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    Call for Entries

    The call for entries are now closed.

    The 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2021 call for entries will open in December with entry deadlines in February 2022.

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