Award-Winning Book Covers

Each year the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) hosts the Top Shelf Award program to recognize design excellence among its member publishers in the Christian publishing industry. The winners of this year’s award were recently announced.


I think it is worthwhile to note these winning titles here for you. Your book’s cover is often your number one marketing tool. People do judge books by their covers. A good cover can draw a potential reader to your book, while a bad cover will turn readers away from your book.

Since cover design is largely art and people have a wide variety of tastes in art, rarely do you find unanimous consensus on whether a book’s cover is alluring. However, there are some standards that are extremely important in book design. Some of these include:

  • Lots of space (an uncluttered look)
  • Easy-to-read fonts
  • Ability to read the title from across a room or in a thumbnail sketch
  • The title and image together should be clever or create emotion

Personally, I don’t find many of these titles that won the Top Shelf Award very alluring. I am not drawn in by many of them. Frankly, some of them don’t even follow the industry standards for good cover images. Some have titles that are really hard to read and don’t hold up to the “thumbnail test” (see The Thumbnail Rule).

What do you think of these award-winning Christian book cover designs?

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Are You Stylish?

I have often said that your book cover is your number one marketing tool. It is. Don’t skimp on your book cover.

A well designed book cover is important. Just as important is a book cover that is stylish. Just as you would not wear a suit from the 1970s to an important meeting today, neither should your book cover look like it was created in 1980.

One way to stay on top of book cover trends is to watch book awards and see what covers receive awards. One award to watch is the Top Shelf Book Cover Awards hosted by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) for their member publishers. This award celebrates the year’s best book designs in Christian publishing. Covers are judged by top designers in the industry for their merits in appropriateness for the market, level of conceptual thinking, and quality of execution.

Take a look at the seven winning nonfiction book cover designs:

Top  ShelfThe designs of the covers that were chosen as the winners for this year’s award are significantly different in style from the last couple of years.Since each of these titles was put out by a large publishing company, take notice of this new trend.

While staying on top of the trending style for book covers is essential to keeping your books looking fresh and relevant, I would add one word of caution. Hip book covers may not always sell the most books. Consider carefully what is fashionable in book covers and compare this to the book covers of best sellingbooks when choosing the cover for your next book.

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