We have attacked this question before so we’ve decided to limit ourselves to our favorite book cover of the past twelve months. It wasn’t long before we realized we would have to change that to favorite book covers; there was no way we could decide on just one.
Yes, I do judge a book by its cover on a regular basis. I don't claim to know anything about good cover design, but like porn, I know it when I see it. It's simple: great covers lure customers into picking up the book. Less simple: nailing hundreds of pages worth of text with a single image. If Gianna hadn't already picked them, both Let the People In and Watergate would appear here. Consider them part of my list, but for the sake of variety, and since you just looked at them, I'll spare you.
Let's start with what I consider possibly the best book cover I've ever seen. Seriously. Peter Mendelsund, the designer, is the genius behind the covers of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the gorgeous new translation of Doctor Zhivago, the Jo Nesbo books like The Snowman. His cover for The Flame Alphabet, though, literally made the reps gasp when we saw it as sales conference. That day I wrote a note to a colleague that said "They better not change that one. It's perfect." (Covers often change between sales conference and on sale.) I wanted to own this book for the cover alone. I would frame this cover.
I love the look of The Beautiful Ruins, from the image to the script. It evokes a time and place and draws in readers. Don't you want to know the story that matches this setting? Me too. It's on my to-be-read pile right now.
For shear badassery, it's hard to beat Angelmaker's cover. It captures the clockwork mechanics that play a central role in the novel, it's has a code hidden in the design that's waiting to be cracked, and it's shiny.
My Random House Children's division colleagues loved Wonder, a book about a boy who can't hide his facial deformity from classmates. It's a book that passionately advocates for compassion and crusades against bullying. The cover conveys a message of fragility and surprise without beating you over the head with, like, Eric Stoltz's made-up face from the movie Mask. That would have been too much. This is not.
I was totally charmed by Where'd You Go Bernadette, and I'm totally charmed by this cover. It captures Bernadette's quirky nature and missteps--she's a world class architect trapped in suburban hell that's partially of her own making. It's just cool.
Speaking of cool, this reissue of Invisible Man is very, very cool. I already own Invisible Man, I've already read Invisible Man (it's great and a must read, by the way), so I really don't need this copy. But I want it.