Established in 1923 by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as “Fifty Books,” the 50 Books | 50 Covers competition is now the longest continually running design competition in the United States. Since 2011, Design Observer has hosted it. And in 2015, for the first time, we are publishing a book and mounting an exhibition to commemorate the competition winners of 2014, narrowed down from a field of 500 entries from fourteen countries.
At Design Observer we make no secret of our love for books. In 2015 alone, we initiated the Thesis Book Project—a platform to share and promote final degree publications from all over the world; we launched a publishing imprint, Observer Editions; and are releasing the first issue of a new journal, Observer Quarterly.
And now, we’re producing the ultimate “book of books” to catalog the winners of this year’s 50 | 50 competition.
Some of the winners of this year’s competition.
Publisher, author, and previous 50 Books | 50 Covers recipient Dave Eggers will introduce the book. Photographer George Baier, who has photographed countless authors and book jacket projects himself, has thoughtfully taken pictures of every book and cover winner. Mohawk has generously donated the finest paper. And with Blurb, we will be printing our book, locally, here in the United States. We are in the final phases of design and production, and plan to go to press at the end of July. The catalog will ship in October.
The following images are 2014 selections, photographed by George Baier.
In conjunction with the book, an exhibition featuring the winners will open at the AIGA Design Conference this October, in New Orleans. While we have approached a number of partners and AIGA chapters who have expressed interest in having the exhibition travel to them, the bottom line remains clear: it’s not cheap to build and ship an exhibition. Raising more money means we can mobilize our efforts for greater impact: simply put, this means more people—from students to educators, designers to the general public—who will have the opportunity to see the actual books themselves.
The only thing better than holding a book in your hands is holding one filled with the best-designed books of the year. We want to put these books in as many hands as possible, and we need your help.