2020 Covered: Favourite Covers of the Year

As we near the end of the year, and the season of ‘best-of’ lists, ABDA asked its members and those-in-the-know in publishing to reflect on their favourite covers of 2020. Which designs stood out online among the multitude of #coverreveals? Which covers cut through the trends to entice us on the shelf? And which were the covers most designers enviously wished they had designed themselves? Here are our favourite covers of 2020.

Kristy Lund-White • Designer and Letterer

Boy on Fire by Mark Mordue. Design by Hazel Lam with artwork by Angie Réhe.

Boy on Fire, designed by Hazel Lam, is the 2020 standout cover for me. WHITE – yes! Highly evocative and classy typography – perfect. Restrained colour palette – divine! It’s a cover that is immediately intriguing, a visual asset for any bookshelf, whether you’re a fan of Nick Cave or not. Whilst there are so many covers in the market with variations on type/illustration ‘weaves’, this one is so unique and fresh. It beautifully and elegantly uncomplicated – where every element works harmoniously. LOVE IT!


Wanissa Somsuphangsri • Designer, Letterer and Illustrator

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby. Design by Emma Grey Gelder and embroidery by Chloe Giordano.

I admire the beautiful embroidery and attention to detail that went into the cover design of Miss Austen by Gill Hornby. The embossed finish applied to the embroidered parts of the artwork gave the cover a life-like quality. What a delightful cover to look at and to pick up and feel! See a quick process video of the embroidery here!


Andy Warren • Senior Designer, HarperCollins

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha. Design by Holly Ovenden.

I am so obsessed with this cover I can’t stop looking at it. The collage is made up of interesting shapes that keep pulling my eyes in all sorts of directions. The handwritten type works beautifully and the contrast between the red lipstick and warm blue background gives me chills. This brings joy!


Trisha Garner • ABDA Committee Member, Designer

Truth Bomb by Abigail Crompton. Design by Ashlea O’Neill

Eye-popping! Dazzling! Explosive! This cover design demands an exclamation mark (or three). A gutsy eyeball graphic with glorious red glitter lips, all tactile and sparkly, creates a provocative ‘look-at-me’ cover. A fearless hommage to female artists. A standout cover in 2020. Ravishing and powerful.


Zenobia Ahmed • Designer

Samson Young: Real Music. Design by Stuart Geddes and Ziga Testen

I love the digital illustration with bold blocks of neon colours. The composition is so lively and vibrant creating an invigorating rhythm — which feels inherently musical. 


Nina Heryanto • ABDA Vice President, Designer

The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay. Design by Laura Thomas.

I love everything about this cover: the cinematic lighting of the image, the nobly posed creature who seems more intelligent than the human next to it, and of course, the elegant, restrained typography. A sophisticated cover for the perfect story to read during our own real-life global pandemic.


Amy Daoud • Designer

Cherry Beach by Laura McPhee-Browne. Design by Imogen Stubbs with artwork by Emma Currie.

I love everything about this cover. The type, the palette, the proportions. So simple yet so strong!


Boy on Fire by Mark Mordue. Design by Hazel Lam with artwork by Angie Réhe.

Intertwined image and typography will never get old for me. I just love the way the big, gold title and Angie’s gorgeous illustration manage to sing so beautifully together against a simple white background. That hand around the ‘F’! *Chef’s kiss*


Philip Campbell • ABDA Committee Treasurer, Designer

Our Shadows by Gail Jones. Design by WH Chong.

Just a very distinctive cover. The colours, the illustration and the type treatment work beautifully. An intriguing cover, which is a good thing.


Louisa Maggio • Senior Designer, Penguin Random House

Petal by Adriana Picker. Design by Daniel New and illustrations by Adriana Picker.

One of my favourite covers! Such a stunning, captivating design that for me, evokes muted vibes of 1960s psychedelic art, and femininity. The palette is beautiful, as is the simplicity of the typography. It’s a design that exemplifies the perfect harmony that can occur in the collaboration between a designer and an illustrator.


To Asia With Love by Hetty McKinnon. Design by Daniel New.

I adore this cover, for its clean design is stunning in its simplicity.


Emily O’Neill • Designer

Honeybee by Craig Silvey. Design by Lisa White.

A striking cover in its simplicity that really stands out – an intriguing image with subtly textured type that is bold but doesn’t overwhelm the image as so many of the “big type” covers can. 


Deborah Lum • Children’s And Young Adult Marketing Assistant, Allen & Unwin

The January Stars by Kate Constable. Design by Deborah Billson.

Debra Billson’s cover designs are always a delight and The January Stars is no different. The intricate paper cutout design and her use of a simple colour palette captivated us from the very beginning and has become one of our favourite covers of 2020.


Pooja Desai • ABDA Committee Secretary, Head of Design, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing

Persistence and Honesty by Zanni Louise. Design by Andy Warren and illustrations by Missy Turner.

Absolutely love this series of books! Bright, punchy, engaging, great spot colour combinations and still friendly – very cute way to tackle big emotions for tiny kids!


Weather by Jenny Offill. Design by Jon Gray.

I know this one isn’t an Australian designer, but I just love it to much I had to give it a little shout out here. Adore such clever simplicity executed perfectly.


The Australian Book Designers Association wishes to thank our contributors for their assistance with this post.


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  • Andrew Kelly

    'ovely selection. A treat to scroll thru.

  • Gregor Macqueen

    A new generation of prescient ideas, some ahead of the contemporary.
    Cherry Beach for me; evokes the imagination from a few lovely lines and a soft yet craggy colour combination.

  • Deirdre O'Sullivan

    "To Asia With Love" is the top cover in my opinion. I like the little jolt of surprise you get, when you spot how cleverly the "O" is balanced between the chopsticks. It's an elegant, amusing trick.