Beautifully Briefed, Mid-September 2022: Indigenous Type, Italic Type, Adobe Types “Stop,” and Two Awesome New Cameras

A wide selection of items for the beginning of fall, from positive fonts to jolly cameras — with Adobe and Pantone pouring some cold water on things. Let’s get to it!

Indigenous Letterforms

As Americans, Europeans, or, more generally, Westerners, we take for granted that fonts will reflect the various pieces of individual type — that is, letterforms — that we’ll need. But not everyone falls into that category.

North American Indigenous fonts — with updated Unicode. Major Kudos. (Courtesy of Dezeen.)

Dezeen points us to an especially interesting effort: “Typotheque typography project aims to protect Indigenous languages from “digital extinction.” In this case, folks who were in the Americas long before Westerners arrived used languages often not written down, or that use letterforms that simply aren’t supported in modern typographic systems.

“When [the Unicode Standard] doesn’t contain characters in a given language’s orthography, it is not possible for that community to accurately use their language on digital text platforms.”

Typotheque typeface designer Kevin King 

Fascinating. Read more at Dezeen.

Italic Letterforms

The always-great Hoefler & Co. spends a minute educating us about italics:

Hoefler examines italics: point-and-sketch
Hoefler’s Fifteen Italic Textures illustration

Italics can be the most colorful part of a type family, diverging dramatically from their roman cousins. Here’s a look at twelve kinds of italic typeface, with some notes on their cultural contexts, historical backgrounds, and practical applications.

Hoefler & Co.

Read the article, “Italics Examined,” at Hoefler & Co.’s Typography.com.

Adobe Types, “Stop.”

Adobe and Pantone are having a . . . thing. As a result, all Pantone spot libraries have been removed from Adobe products:

A classy move, completely in character for both companies, to reach into users’ machines and remove stuff they had paid for and may rely on because of some licensing spat.

Nick Heer, Pixel Envy

I didn’t get a notice in either InDesign or Photoshop, but a check in InDesign (the CC 2022, aka 17.4, version) shows only the CMYK libraries:

Adobe’s Pantone+ CMYK (Coated) color picker, from InDesign CC 2022

You can subscribe to the additional libraries from Pantone for $60/year. Book design is almost exclusively CMYK, so I won’t be . . . but grrrr.

On the subject of Canadians: thanks to Nick Heer’s north-of-the-border reporting for the update.

Two Awesome New Cameras, from $100 to $100,000

So Pagani, the multi-million-dollar sports car manufacturer, has decided to market large-format cameras. Okay!

One of Pagani’s new camera models
A closeup of the (beautifully-detailed) tripod plate for Pagani’s new cameras.

Incredible, breathtaking detail and quality, based on Gibellini models but taken to 11. But like their cars, mere mortals need not apply: they start over $100,000.

Instead I encourage an order from this Ukrainian company:

Jollylook’s Pinhole Instant Mini film camera
Jollylook’s Pinhole Instant Mini in situ

They’re based on instant film cartridges, are made of recycled materials, look incredibly cool, and a kit starts at an incredibly-reasonable $99. Throw in a few extra dollars to support Ukraine and . . . feel Jolly.

Thanks to This is Colossal for the link.

Beautifully Briefed, August 2022: Drobo, Rolling Stone, Aston Martin, and Bugatti

Three interesting logo redesigns this month, plus a moment where venti has nothing to do with coffee. Oh, and a airy bonus.

Drobo Declares Bankruptcy

Generally speaking, I’m not one to engage in schadenfreude, aka “enjoying the pain or suffering of another.” (Wiki. Anyone surprised that the Germans have a word for this … but I digress.)

A selection of expensive, unreliable junk.

Back in 2011, I lost two Drobos in short order — and with them, the majority of my back files. Project I’d worked on, photographs I’d taken, personal documents, years worth of stuff, just gone.

Drobo, the company, did nothing to help, offering neither solutions nor apologies. I wasn’t alone; forums across the ’net suggested that I should have chosen more carefully.

It turns out they should have, too. Good.

Gloat Read more at DPReview or PopPhoto.

Rolling Stone’s New Logo

To call Rolling Stone‘s place in America culture iconic might be selling it short, and their logo plays a large role in that. In 2018, they flattened it — leading that trend, possibly — and it lost something.

However, this month, it’s back:

Rolling Stone’s 2022 logo redesign.

“The assignment was a paradox. How could we make the logo look like it did in the past, without making it feel dated? My hope is that loyal readers will believe the old logo is back, but on closer inspection will be surprised to notice how much it has been modernized.”

Jesse Ragan, XYZ Type

The “old logo” he’s referring to is the one that ran from 1981–2018, but there were others, too:

Rolling Stone’s lettering shapes through the years. See more at both links.

A great study in logo evolution: read more at the Type Network, and lettering specifics from XYZ Type. Awesome. (Hat tip to, as usual, Brand New.)

Aston Martin’s New Logo

On the subject of subtlety, Aston Martin usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Their recent logo redesign, however, falls into that category:

Wings of Glory (so to speak)

The evolution of their logo emphasizes those small steps:

AM’s logo through the years.

Not a great amount of information on this one, but the accompanying photographs of the logomark being made are fantastic. See more at The Drive, with more at Brand New.

Bugatti’s New Logo

Subtlety and Bugatti rarely — if ever — fit in the same sentence. Aston is stratospheric as far as I’m concerned, so Bugatti would qualify as the antithesis of subtlety. But, but, but: there’s something about one.

The new Mistral. (Sorry, it’s sold out.)

They have a new logo and marketing campaign to go with:

Specifics, courtesy of Interbrand.
The Mistral from the back, showing the new type treatment.

Read up at It’s Nice That. Car and Driver has more information on the Mistral.

Bonus: In the Skies

It’s been a busy August, including having to make a lightning trip through the usually-not-fun Atlanta airport. But there’s always a bright spot at the end of that tunnel: being the little boy again, awed by the simple act of flying.

Better still, the flight was on a 757, the sports car of big planes. Everybody around me had their window shades pulled and noses in their phones, but I was looking out the window:

Delta Ship 5654, Above Clouds and Sea

See you in September!

50 Books, 50 Covers: 2021 Edition

AIGA has announced their winners of the 2021 50 Books, 50 Covers competition:

With 605 book and cover design entries from 29 countries, this year’s competition recognizes and showcases excellence in book design from around the world. […] Eligible entries for the 2021 competition were open to books published and used in the marketplace in 2021.

AIGA Press Release

In this year’s competition, innovative book designs for topics ranging from designing and motherhood, African surf culture, stories of resistance, visual histories of Detroit, Black food traditions, and more all give our jury life, hope, and visible windows into new possible worlds. The covers and books we looked at had a diverse range of visual language and took aesthetic risks.

Silas Munro, AIGA [Competition] Chair

As usual, there are items here that I haven’t seen before, along with several that surfaced on others’ “best of 2021” book design lists (see that Foreword post for my faves). Also as usual, there are some excellent choices.

Further, there’s something in this competition that you don’t see in the usual “best of” posts: interiors. Half of the competition is covers, sure, but the other half considers the whole book design — and sometimes, as I can definitely attest, an underwhelming cover can lead to a treasure within.

But enough talking. My favorites, in no particular order:

Cover by George McCalman.
Book design by George McCalman.

This is one from the 2021 “best of” finalists that I didn’t post about — but now that I’ve seen the interior…. So very worthy. (See more.)

Cover design by David Chickey and Mat Patalano.
Book design by David Chickey and Mat Patalano.

This series of three books not only have striking covers I’d not seen before but exceptionally competent interiors done on matte paper, a personal favorite. (Click through for more examples.) Excellent.

Design overseen by Haller Brun.
Design overseen by Haller Brun.

In this fascinating book, architectural photographer Iwan Baan and (Pritzker-winning) architect Francis Kéré “set out to capture how the sun’s natural light cycle shapes vernacular architecture.” While I may be slightly biased in terms of architecture and photography, this one’s a winner. (Read the AIGA’s take.)

Cover by Andrea A. Trabucco-Campos.
Book design by Andrea A. Trabucco-Campos.

“A little overly precious,” the AIGA says … while awarding it a prize. Completely fresh, I say, with interesting content presented in a way that does considerably more than interest. Well done. (See them apples.)

Cover by Gary Fogelson and Ryan Waller.
Book design by Gary Fogelson and Ryan Waller.

“The type on the cover and in the body is perfect, in all ways and choices. The use of the gutter for captions is a great understanding of the art and a perfect way to save space. The page numbers too.”

Brian Johnson, AIGA Judge

This is one of those books that you have to say, “I wish I’d done that.” Great stuff. (See its individual entry.)

The Time Formula. Cover by Honza Zamojski.
Book design by Honza Zamojski.

There always seems to be some projects that violate book design “rules” — this one doesn’t have a title on the cover, has page numbers in the gutters, and more. Yet this book, about a sculpture project, makes for interesting viewing indeed. (See more.)

Last, we have a couple that are only covers:

Cover by Janet Hansen.

This was considered for my favorites of 2021 (and made it onto others’ lists). I’m glad to have been given the chance to call it out. Excellent in its simplicity. (See the AIGA entry.)

Last, but certainly not least:

Cover by Lydia Ortiz.

Another advantage of this competition: seeing more than the front cover. And this cover, front, back, and spine, is so much more — especially in person: black plus four neon inks. Wow. (See the AIGA’s praise.)

Many, many more to choose from at AIGA: set aside a little time, wander through all of the projects chosen, and truly enjoy. (Via Locus.)

FYI: See last year’s 50 Books, 50 Covers, too.

Beautifully Briefed, Early July 2022: The Autopian, The Ford Heritage Vault, and an Eames Follow-Up

Car site The Autopian scores with book design, Ford posts old marketing material gold mine, and more on the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity in this edition of Beautifully Briefed.

Autopian suggests book design

The Autopian, founded by a couple of former Jalopnik writers, is a new automotive gem: in these days of more-of-the-sameism sites trying to make money of others’ ideas, the Autopian has a retro style and interesting, original content.

Including this short post from their Cold Start column:

Sometimes you may encounter an old car ad and realize that the design of it could lend itself very well to something completely different. In this case, this 1958 Ford Zodiac ad, with its rich, saturated colors, striking dress on the model, and evocative name with understated typography just feel like something you’d see on modern book cover design.

Jason Torchinsky, Autopian Founder

The ad:

A 1958 Ford Zodiac (European)

His book design idea “realized”:

Jason’s book cover mock-up. Love the author name.

Nice.

The Ford Heritage Vault

Ford has taken the unusual step of posting a good chunk of their old — 1903 to 2003, their first 100 years — marketing materials online: “promotional materials, photographs, and all kinds of other historical goodies,” according to CarScoops.

“Our archives were established 70 years ago, and for the first time, we’re opening the vault for the public to see. This is just a first step for all that will come in the future,” says Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager.

Here’s a personal favorite: the 1965 full line brochure, showing the cars set in architectural drawings — presumably, matching the car to the house:

The 1965 Ford Family of Cars brochure

Fancy a drive down memory lane?

More from the Eames Institute

We discussed the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity back in April, but Metropolis magazine has published an extensive article covering a visit to the Institute.

Modernism has largely been diluted from a series of ideas rooted in social change to one of just style—Instagram moments, if you will. The Eameses insisted that they did not have a style or even an “ism.” […] Modernism was an idea, not a style. With the establishment of the Eames Institute, I hope Charles and Ray will be remembered most of all for their ideas and processes.

Kenneth Caldwell, Metropolis
An exhibit at the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity.

With our ongoing struggle to use materials more efficiently, many of the Eameses’ ideas and ideals need to be taken for the solutions that they are: style with incredible substance.

Read the whole article at Metropolis. (Via ArchDaily.)

Beautifully Briefed, Late June 2022: AIA’s Best Architectural Photography, 2022 Logo Trends, and … Buick!

Three items for the end of June, 2022: AIA Los Angeles announces photography awards, the 2022 edition of the Logo Lounge logo trends report is out, and Buick makes its new logo official. Let’s get into the details.

AIALA Photography Awards

The Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|LA) has announced this year’s winners of the annual Architectural Photography Awards, and there’s some pretty great stuff:

Ryan Gobuty: Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM)
Taiyo Watanabe: C-Glass House (Dillon Beach, CA)
Tim Griffith: Mission Bay (San Francisco, CA)

See more at AIA|LA. (Via Archinect.)

2022 Logo Trends Report

The always-excellent Brand New points us at Logo Lounge’s 2022 Logo Trends report, it’s 20th annual look at what logos and branding, as a group, are looking like this year.

Logo Lounge 2022 Logo Trends Report

[W]hile there are still corporate-looking marks being crafted there is a stronger effort to find ways to identify products that are artisanal and handcrafted.

Bill Gardner, Logo Lounge

Corporations trying to be more human. (News at 11.) But then, my use of that particular phrase perhaps betrays my lack of being in touch with the modern corporate world; I think publishing is a different animal, and prefer being part of that world despite the regular influence of corporate entities there, too.

Nonetheless, following logo trends is, from a purely graphic design perspective, worthwhile — and this report summarizes beautifully. Read on.

Buick’s New Logo, Officially

We’ve touched upon it before, but Buick has, with the release of the Electra Wildcat concept, officially updated its logo:

Official: Buick’s new logo

Electra is Buick’s name for electric cars, simultaneously stating the obvious while giving a big nod to past models — and the Wildcat concept is, dare I say it, borderline cool:

Scandinavian, American, Futuristic, Retro … Buick!

Both Buick and Cadillac have hinted at more Art Deco in their upcoming products, perhaps best illustrated on this concept’s interior:

It’s a head rest, folks.

Nice. (Not even remotely possible on a production model, but still.) Read more on Buick’s new logo and transition to an electric car brand at Car and Driver or The Drive.

See you in July!

Update, 12 August 2022: Brand New weighs in: A New Point of View… ick

Beautifully Briefed [Updated]: Book Six-Fer, June ’22

A book design treat for your Monday morning: four of my favorite new book covers from last month’s debuts.

How To Be Eaten. Design by Julianna Lee.

Aged, distressed paper is a great look when done well, and this one hits all the right notes. The size relationship between the characters, the glow around the eyes, the two color choices, the type, all of it — great stuff.

Sedating Elaine. Design by Janet Hansen.

A veritable how-to on less-is-more. Brilliant.

Vladimir. Design by Katie Tooke.

Another solid-color triumph. Great font choice here, too. Awesome.

I’ve saved the best for last:

You Have a Friend in 10A. Design by Kelly Blair.

Great Circle has featured before, and this follow-up takes us inside the plane and into the safety brochure in the best possible way. Great, brilliant, and awesome wrapped into one.

Via LitHub and Spine, as usual. Have a good week!

Update, June 20th: WABE, Atlanta’s NPR station, has a summer reading list out, highlighting Georgia books and authors — and I’d like to include two of the covers here:

Invisible Child.

The grainy photograph, the wonderfully placed city skyline, and classic typography, combined with the diagonal cutline, elevate this title from mundane to eye-catching.

The Sweetness of Water.

Excellently distressed doesn’t begin to describe this, on many levels. Side note: it’s a terrible shame that the Oprah and Booker call-outs have been elevated to logo status in what can politely be described as a distraction (from a book designer’s point of view, at least).

Beautifully Briefed, May 2022: Two on Type, Two on Photography, and Kottke

This month’s favorites cover a delightful new extension of the typeface DaVinci, Google’s updated mega-font, Noto, photographs of a desert aircraft boneyard from above, and mega-photographs of the Milky Way.

Before we get there, however, I wanted to wish Jason Kottke — whose 24 years of web sleuthing has been a source for items here on Foreword dating back to its original iteration in the ’90s — good luck on his sabbatical:

“I need some space to think and live and have generative conversations and do things, and then I’ll make something, but I can’t tell you what it is just yet.”1Alexandra Bell, NYT That’s the sort of energy I need to tap into for a few months.

Hear, hear.

The Beautiful DaVinci Italic

It’s Nice That points us to a new, extended version of the font DaVinci, done for Sydney’s Biennale:

“When you do this sort of type exercise — based on printed letters — it gives a very organic shape and form, in opposition to the very metallic sharp shape from type materials.” Furthering this organic look by pushing the fluidity curse at its maximum, Virgile ended with a design “which is very historical, yet with a contemporary twist.” 

Just look at those glyphs!

Makes you want to find an excuse to use it. But that’s not all: Flores is an incredibly diverse artist whose work both challenges and inspires. See more.

Google’s Noto

Called “A Typeface for the World,” Google’s Noto defines “megaproject.”

Noto is a collection of high-quality fonts with multiple weights and widths in sans, serif, mono, and other styles. The Noto fonts are perfect for harmonious, aesthetic, and typographically correct global communication, in more than 1,000 languages and over 150 writing systems. 

Google’s Noto font collection.

According to Google,

“Noto” means “I write, I mark, I note” in Latin. The name is also short for “no tofu”, as the project aims to eliminate ‘tofu’: blank rectangles shown when no font is available for your text.

While the font itself has been around for a few years — 2013 seems like yesterday in so many ways! — it’s updated regularly, cover 150 out of the 154 scripts defined in Unicode, and deserves attention from every web designer and type nut. Read more at Google or Wikipedia. (Via Kottke.)

Aircraft Boneyard, From an Aircraft

This is Colossal introduces us to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, whose desert conditions are ideal for storing — and scrapping — aircraft:

What happens when the military’s aircraft are end-of-lifed

The photographs are by Bernhard Lang — whom Colossal has highlighted before — and who has an incredible talent for finding patterns from above. See many more at his website.

Milky Way Photography

We don’t get many opportunities here in Middle Georgia, but in other, less populous (read: less light-polluted) places in the world, the Milky Way shines forth from the heavens:

Mountain, redefined.

The Guardian points us to the 2022 Milky Way Photographer of the Year, and many just wow:

Take cover . . . in awe!

Check ’em all out, be inspired to take one of your own, or simply be reminded just how big this system we’re a part of is. Enjoy.

Beautifully Briefed, Late April 2022: Old Macs, More or Less, to the Fore(word)

This time: System Six, from Glider’s programmer; MacOS 8 — including Glider — in your browser; and a pictorial history of Apple monitors. Nostalgia for your enjoyment!

System Six

John Calhoun, who wrote one of my all-time favorite games for the classic Mac, Glider, has taken a Raspberry Pi, an e-ink screen, and a great deal of ingenuity to make this:

It’s only got the shape of a classic Mac — and yet….

Calendar events, the current moon phase, and more, in a form that can’t help but bring a smile. Better still, he’s written about the process so others can make one, too. (Ahem, Gerald.) Best desk accessory evah, to coin a phrase.

Infinite Mac
Fastest MacOS 8 startup times in history.

A project to have an easily browsable collection of classic Macintosh software from the comfort of a (modern) web browser. […S]ee what using a Mac in the mid-1990’s was like.

Well, naturally, I’ve been . . . here:

Glider works — and wastes time — just as well as on the original.

MacOS8, with infinite fun. But that’s not all! For — wait for it — $0, you also get System 7 and KanjiTalk. (Set aside a few hours before clicking.)

Mac Monitor history, detailed

With the advent of the Apple Studio Display, Steven Hackett, of 512 Pixels fame (along with a variety of podcasts — he’s the co-founder of Relay FM), decided it was a good time to look back at some of Apple’s monitors. Starting with this gem:

Apple IIc with its LCD screen!

It takes a footnote — hmph — to get to what Steven and I both agree is a favorite, the last iteration of the CRT-based Apple Studio Display (you knew that name was familiar, right?):

The last great CRT monitor, IMHO.

And then there’s the 30-inch Cinema Display, shown here with the G5 tower:

Awesome.

I had several of these monitors, including one of the 30-inchers, and have loved every one of them. And while I, like a lot of creatives, use a 27-inch iMac these days, thanks to Apple’s discontinuation of said iMac, the next iteration of my office setup will include a standalone Apple monitor. I’m glad Steven took the time to remind us what’s been — thanks.

Bonus: Steven has an eMac G4 article up, too. Great times.

I Swear, This Title….

Kottke recently revisited a theme that’s been running for a few years now: titles with a swear — f*ck, in this case — in the title. According to Slate, the practice stems from the 2011 parenting title Go the F*ck to Sleep, and has accelerated over the years.

I’m more interested in the design of such a title. Bookstores, advertisers, and publicists demand that the swear never be completely spelled out, but that doesn’t restrict great design ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:

Love the fork. (So to speak.)
The less-is-more approach.
Whales as sardines.
Interesting choice with the capitals, or lack thereof.

Note the over-arching theme: no, not that — the lack of photography. The vast majority of these titles are text based, supposedly because something competing with the swear would detract from the shock value. There’s a primary color thing going, too, probably for the same reason.

Most of the time:

Self-help, with style.

Something different for your day!

My 50 Favorite Book Covers of 2021

2021 Favorite Book Covers

This post is late, because I had trouble narrowing my long list down . . . and then, when even the short list was too long, said, “heck, 21 is too few for a year with such superlative design.” So, instead of 21 for ’21, y’all get 50. Grab a delicious beverage, settle in, and enjoy.

My selections stem from books I’ve seen; the “best of” lists from NPR, The New Yorker, Kottke, and the BBC; and the best book cover lists from Spine, the Casual Optimist, Kottke, AIGA Eye on Design, Creative Review, LitHub, and PRINT magazine. When you’re done here, see how my list compares with theirs — a great many more outstanding covers await.

Please remember that these are my favorites — others might say “best,” but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that there’s always another great title you haven’t seen or read about, and I don’t want to disrespect any of the great book designers not on this list. I’ve tried to include design credit where I could (thank you to the folks who answered emails with that information), and I wish to stress that any mistakes (incorrect attribution, link not working, etc.) in the list below are mine.

My cover of the year is one of those combinations of photography and printed word that works on multiple levels. Okay, sure, it’s called Liar’s Dictionary, so I may totally be pulling your leg here, but:

2021 Cover of the Year: Liar's Dictionary

“We all peacock with our words,” one reviewer said: exactly right. I’m wondering about the direction of the shadow — some Monday morning quarterbacking, for certain — but otherwise, I’d be incredibly pleased to have this cover in my portfolio. It speaks to what I aspire to, which is the best photography and best graphics working in beautiful concert. Design by Emily Mahon. (Bonus: See a Spine write-up on Emily from 2017.)

With Teeth book cover

My runner-up for favorite cover of the year, this novel of a queer mother is immeasurably strengthened by this extraordinary cover. Great color, great type . . . just great. Design by Lauren Peters-Collaer.

The rest, in alphabetical order:

Abundance

The ability of this cover to catch your eye on a crowded bookshelf is undeniable, but it’s the amount communicated with seeming simplicity that makes it a winner. Design by Kapo Ng.

An Honest Living book cover

The progression of graphics here win on several levels, but the icing on this “exquisite ransom note” (thanks, Lithub) is the shadow from the silhouette in the middle. The use of so few colors is a huge bonus. Design by David Pearson. (He doesn’t seem to have a website, but here’s a It’s Nice That article.)

Awake book design

The combination of background image — the eyebrows are perfect — with the elements making up the overlays is wonderful. The wraparound text adds to the whimsy. Brilliant results. Design by Joan Wong.

Beautiful Country book design

This is just great: “struggle to survive” so prominently displayed, the fence and wall, what looks like a cop in the upper left, the guy staring straight at camera in the lower left, the “hurry up” notion of the mother and child, the colors of the collage, everything. Wow. Design by Linda Huang.

Brothers and Keepers book cover

This is another from the “simple is better” category. Great colors, yes, but little details, like the type and the subtle overlay of the graphs over some of that type take it over the finish line with style.

Concepcion book cover

Collage and type, yellow and green, all done beautifully well. Bonus points for the hints — just hints — at faces. Design by Lauren Peters-Collaer.

Curb book cover

Another with simple colors, but the strengths here are not only in the eye-catching type, but the repeating line drawings with their own curb . . . and that single lit window for the win.

Dear Senthuran book cover

Leopard! Wonderful pencil sketch! From the simple-at-first-glance category we have anything but.

Edge Case book cover

At the risk of repeating myself, this one seems simple. Until you realize that the tomatoes age . . . and spoil. (The vine’s awesome, too.) Edgy design by Na Kim. (Bonus AIGA Eye on Design article on her.)

Foucault in Warsaw book cover

“Memorable” doesn’t begin to describe this one; the upside-down painting is only the beginning. Design by Daniel Benneworth-Gray.

God of Mercy book cover

I’m going to go with chalk rather than brush to describe the type and especially flames, but either way, when combined with this extreme close-up, its perfectly-chosen duotone, and fantastic skin texture of this beautiful model, we get something close to amazing. Design by Sara Wood.

Gold Diggers book cover

In contrast to some, this one is not simple at all: deeply detailed and strikingly colored, this cover says “all-American” in a way only an immigrant can. Design by Stephanie Ross.

Great Circle book cover

Mentioned earlier this year, this title circles back because the artwork demands it. Cool white-type title, too. Design by Kelly Blair.

Hard Like Water book cover

The smile — and the shoes! — speak more loudly than the revolutionary themes so typical of Maoist-era settings. The perfect parody cover. Brilliant. Cover design by Matthew Broughton, based on art by Biao Zhong.

Harlem Shuffle book cover

Color, type, objects, the arrow, “a novel,” circled, the people and places . . . all add up to so much more than just the sum of the parts. Awesome.

Harsh Times book cover

Nobel prize, blah, blah. It’s the cover, darn it! Design by Alex Merto.

Hex book cover

The first of two skulls on this year’s list, this one made up of perhaps the least-hexed thing imaginable.

House of Sticks book cover

This one’s on this list for its subtle brilliance: the watercolor lines, the great typography choice, and integration of the photograph. Nicely done.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House book cover

One the one hand, a simple photograph-and-title book cover. On the other, it’s beautifully cropped, the reader/viewer catches the “look,” and it’s complimented with great color choices. Long title served oh-so-well.

In book cover

You don’t see almost-blank covers every day, and this one, especially, makes you want in. (Sorry.) Brilliant.

Intimations book cover

I. Want. To. Have. Taken. This. Photograph. (And then done this cover.)

Kennedy's Avenger book cover

This type of cover is actually very difficult to accomplish well, and here, it’s . . . well, accomplished.

Look For Me and I'll Be Gone book cover

Brilliant on so many levels. Design by David Litman.

Morningside Heights book cover

Color and type compliment the awesome choice of suit and hat here. One of those covers that demands the reader/viewer pick it up off the shelf and explore. Design by Kelly Blair.

My Monticello book cover

The painterly elements here lead the reader/viewer to the correct question: “what is this about?” and, guaranteed: it’s not what you think.

Nectarine book cover

This made a bunch of best-of lists this year, and I gotta say: it’s one accomplished scribble. Brilliant. Design by Dave Drummond. (Bonus: Dave Drummond has a write-up from PRINT.)

Nobody Somebody Anybody book cover

The best riff on “upstairs, downstairs” seen in a long, long time.

O Beautiful book cover

Watercolor, in every sense of the word. (Cloudy drips, too.) O-so-beautiful. Design by Young Jin Lim.

O book cover

Oh — wait a minute. Stick-on that isn’t, quite, combined with peeling and what seems like staring add up to a favorite. Design by Gray318.

Pessoa book cover

From the simple-but-not dept., we have another brilliant entry, with great color choices, type placement, and the best — some might say, “Iconic” — “a biography” stamp ever. Love that the smallest photo is peeling, too. I’m actually envious of the talent displayed here! Design by Yang Kim.

Reparations Now book cover

I hope it comes out in the relatively small photograph, but this is actually paper cut. Great choices, great colors.

Silent Winds Dry Seas book cover

Like a dreamily lace curtain, the overlay on this painted shore brings what could be nice to the level of sublime. Having a cool title helps, too. Winner.

Skinship book cover

Wow. This cover violates so many supposed rules, yet succeeds on so many levels — absolutely brilliant. Design by Janet Hansen.

Stranger to the Moon book cover

The simple-yet-not cup floweth over with this one; its scant 96 pages encompass dystopian political fiction that wins national awards and deserves something this strong. Design by Janet Hansen.

Summer Water book cover

Illustration rules, in a foreboding style that suggests anything other than a Scottish summer. Lovely slim type is complimented perfectly by the script at the bottom. The title is actually Summerwater, by the way — I missed the hyphen at first — but ultimately I’m not sure it matters. Design by June Park.

Tastes Like War book cover

The ingredients on this cover, together with splattered red, suggest more than food, racism, and a parent’s problems, yet this is a title I’d definitely pick and and spend time examining — all thanks to great design.

That Old Country Music book cover

An absolutely perfect photograph highlights a stack of great choices.

The Copenhagen Trilogy book cover

The old-time portrait it taken to the next three levels. Fantastic. Bonus points for an unusual type choice (type name, according to site name). Great, great design by Na Kim. (See also the PRINT write-up on this title.)

The Divines book cover

The photograph cropping alone brings this title to the table, but when combined with the aged background, the white dots perhaps suggesting a past shot through with problems, and the desiccated flower suggest something so much more. Design by Mumtaz Mustafa.

Open and Nev book cover

Sure, impressing Ta-Nehisi Coates and Barak Obama means impressive fiction — but it deserves a cover with star power, and this design by — absolutely delivers. Great stuff.

The Ghost Sequences book cover

The second skull on the list, this “house built by memory in-between your skin and bones” requires a second look, then a third. Deal me in. Design by Vince Haigh.

The Haunting of Alma Fielding book cover

Great type complimenting great illustration choices, sure, but those feet . . . .

This Thing Between Us book cover

Surreal smart speaker — no kidding. How does one design a cover for that, exactly? This way. Design by Sara Wood.

This Wound is a World book cover

“[C]ut a hole in the sky / to world inside,” this volume of Native American poetry suggests. The cover does just that.

Three Novels book cover

“Another few cuts of paper,” he said with such casualness. Ha! Design by Tom Etherington.

Warmth book cover

“Beautifully rendered and bracingly honest,” one of the reviews says. The cover, as well. (Plus, lines.)

We Run the Tides book cover

The color choices here, combined with the illustration, suggest something soothing, yet catch the eye in a way that demands attention. The mystery within does, too, from practically the first sentence. Here because I know I wouldn’t have done it so well.

Zorrie book cover

Climbing that ladder’s going to take a minute. But then, that’s what it’s all about . . . .

On to 2022, everyone! Thanks for surviving 2020, 2021, and continuing to read — here, and behind your favorite book cover.

I Love Typography’s 2020 Favorites

“It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since I published one of these annual Favorite Fonts lists. A lot has happened in the interim: I now have less hair, more grey hairs, sometimes complain about my back, and now live in another country! Anyway, that’s quite enough about me. Here are, then, in no particular order, my favorite typefaces of 2020…”

Some great choices here, especially:

A layer font — something described as “fashionable for a while” — this one deserves to be on a book cover.

Special mention: ILT’s web design. This blog and this entry both are easy to look at, well put-together, and something that makes me a little envious.

Read all of the 2020 favorites, or ILT’s main page.

Dust Jackets: A History

Although books as objects have been around for many hundreds of years, by looking at the history of the dust jacket, we can see how young the modern book design really is.

Book Riot has posted the interesting “The History of Dust Jackets: From Disposable to Collectable” for all of our entertainment, education, and general love-of-books reading.

(Check out their “Why are Books That Shape?” and “The History of Deckle Edges,” too.)