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No design is easy and simple, but designing a book cover might just be the hardest task in the world of design. Why so? Well, for starters - a very limited space! Second, the design has to be clear and memorable. And third, it also has to say something about the book itself, and finding a universal visual language understandable to all is no easy feat. Yet, some designers not only match all of the criteria mentioned above, but they also create such iconic imagery that we cannot forget about it for decades after, finally assimilating the design with the book itself. Curious to see the best book covers ever made? Well then, we have a list just for that! 

Once you start reading the list below, you’ll notice that a good few of the book covers belong to true classics, such as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. And it’s no coincidence! These books themselves became literary icons, and by association, their covers became so, too. Along with the classics (both books and their covers), there are also examples of modern literature. And with modernity came a slew of never-before-seen book cover designs that followed the pulse of the art world while also maintaining the aim to reveal the book’s story. And that’s when things started to get more and more interesting! Just take a look at the iconic designs by Paul Bacon (no relation to Francis Bacon), and you’ll see what we’re talking about. 

With that said, it might be just the time for you to finally check out the iconic books for yourself. So scroll down below, check out the amazing artwork, and give your vote to the book cover art that got you nodding mysteriously in understanding or left your jaw hanging agape.



#1

Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen

Pride And Prejudice book cover

Yes, Pride and Prejudice has many covers and plenty of editions, but this cover art, which once upon a time covered the first fully illustrated edition published by George Allen, is still the most popular and the most well-loved.

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fredneobob90 avatar
Huddo's sister
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I've seen this edition in stores and wished I could afford to buy it!

#2

Brave New World By Aldous Huxley

Brave New World book cover

There are several types of Brave New World covers, including those with pills, machine parts, clones, and Earth. Many of these visually reference Leslie Holland's original, which is still the most well-known and recognizable, even though Holland is infamous for having never even read the book.

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#3

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby book cover

This book cover has a unique history and may be the most recognizable in American literature. For starters, Cugat, a Spanish artist, only ever created this cover. Another reason is that he performed the job before the material was complete (for $100), and it seems the book was genuinely affected by the cover.

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#4

Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 book cover

Although now this cover might seem a bit outdated, it was, at its own time, very striking and novel. And now, it is perhaps one of the most iconic!

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#5

The Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger

The Catcher In The Rye book cover

You may remember that Salinger was very picky about how his books were displayed and that this is the only one with any sort of image at all. While he was writing his most well-known book in Connecticut, his close buddy E. Michael Mitchell lived next door. According to rumors, Salinger read aloud passages of the book to his friend as he worked on it before asking him to create the cover.

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#6

A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire book cover

Yhis lithograph, which is a part of the permanent collection at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, was first used as a cover for Williams' play back in 1947. The artwork was created by Alvin Lustig, and the edition was published by New Directions.  

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#7

To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird book cover

This first edition cover is still what you'd get if you, say, went online to buy Lee's Pulitzer Prize–winning classic right now, even though it has been translated into more than 40 languages and has sold over 40 million copies.

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#8

Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man book cover

As far as literary classics go, Invisible Man is a little unusual because it has had a ton of fantastic covers and very few offensively awful ones. However, the first edition cover remains the most recognizable—possibly due to McKnight Kauffer's previous work as a poster artist.

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#9

Psycho By Robert Bloch

Psycho book cover

Bloch's novel's typography was so well received that Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to it to promote the movie; it also impacted Saul Bass' opening credit sequence. A truly iconic artwork!

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#10

Catch-22 By Joseph Heller

Catch-22 book cover

There have been a few redesigns of Catch-22 here and there, similar to To Kill a Mockingbird, but the original has endured. Paul Bacon's version is simply iconic in so many ways.

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tspeicher756 avatar
pov
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

pandas!! ive always wanted to read this book!! should i?? tell meee

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#11

The Godfather By Mario Puzo

The Godfather book cover

This cover has benefited by being used to sell the film adaptation, which in this case was the highest-grossing movie of 1972 and, at the time, the highest-grossing movie ever made—not to mention one of the most influential. This is similar to how Psycho's promotional usage of its book helped that movie's overall success. Not a horrible formula for iconicity.

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#12

In Cold Blood By Truman Capote

In Cold Blood book cover

Fujita's cover for Capote's book is almost identical to its first version. Just one minor thing was changed - in the draft version, the 'hatpin' was bright red, but Capote told Fujita to make it more burgundy because, in the book, the 'crime wasn't so fresh.' If you read it, you know what they were on about!

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#14

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings book cover

This must be one of the most adored and marketable book covers. Despite that, there's very little information on its creator Halverson.

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kittenlevelstokyo avatar
kitten levels tokyo
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well, we know his name (Halverson), and a color he liked to work with (red).

#15

Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five book cover

Although the Dell paperback edition from the 1990s has largely supplanted this one in schools, another Paul Bacon classic that has been retrieved numerous times still holds its own in the t-shirt business. Have you ever noticed that the second 'S' is flipped over?

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#16

A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange book cover

Although the majority of the book covers on this list are first editions, David Pelham's paperback edition of A Clockwork Orange was released ten years after the novel's initial release. Stanley Kubrick forbade Penguin from using any of the movie's Philip Castle-designed poster elements in the new edition, so Penguin's art director, David Pelham, commissioned an entirely new one. It was a tie-in edition to coincide with the release of Kubrick's film adaptation.

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#18

The Little Prince By Antoine De Saint - Exupéry

The Little Prince book cover

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#19

Jaws By Peter Benchley

Jaws book cover

Another illustration of a design concept that was so excellent it permeated the entire book. Editor Tom Congdon and creative director Alex Gotfryd decided on a stark typographic jacket after Bantam's salesmen rejected Benchley's first cover idea, which was "a peaceful unsuspecting town [shown] through the bleached jaws of a shark," in accordance with Benchley's own vision.

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markglass avatar
Lotekguy
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Great job of capturing the menace for a non-moving medium.

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#20

Jurassic Park By Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park book cover

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tmarofvulcan avatar
T'Mar of Vulcan
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I have the original (?) cover, which doesn't have the iconic T-Rex silhouette on it - it just shows a misty island with lightning bolts hitting it. Gives it more of a mysterious feel.

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#22

The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar book cover

Harper & Row's first American edition introduced Davida as the unofficial Bell Jar font, which can now be found (along with the rose motif) on quite a few book editions. And that's what we call an iconic design! 

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#23

The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale book cover

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fredneobob90 avatar
Huddo's sister
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I need to buy this book. My dad got me the prequel, thinking I had this, but I hadn't even read it. I would love to read the two one after the other.

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#24

The Goldfinch By Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch book cover

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kittenlevelstokyo avatar
kitten levels tokyo
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Many people don’t realize that the letters in Donna Tartt can be rearranged to spell “Don’t tan art”, which is, of course, timeless wisdom.

#25

Portnoy’s Complaint By Philip Roth

Portnoy’s Complaint book cover

It might seem that this list is dedicated to Paul Bacon's artwork, but hey, if he's so iconic, why the heck not? 

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kittenlevelstokyo avatar
kitten levels tokyo
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Words on a yellow background is now recognized as one of the most iconic book cover ideas ever conceived.

#26

All The Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace In Virginia Woolf By Katharine Smyth

All The Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace In Virginia Woolf book cover

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#28

The Psychopath Test By Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test book cover

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#29

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone By By J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone book cover

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#30

Song Of Solomon By Toni Morrison

Song Of Solomon book cover

An iconic color palette, a custom-type treatment, and one symbol to capture the book's essence - an excellent and memorable design!

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#32

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being By Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being book cover

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#34

The Animorphs By K.A. Applegate

The Animorphs book cover

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fredneobob90 avatar
Huddo's sister
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My brother had a few of this series. I never read the books, but the tv series was pretty good.

#35

This Is How You Lose The Time War By Amal El-Mohtar And Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose The Time War book cover

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#37

Loneliness By John T. Cacioppo And William Patrick

Loneliness book cover

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Jessica N
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I've never read it but that is a perfect cover for subject

#38

Night Shift By Stephen King

Night Shift book cover

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#39

The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso By Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso book cover

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#43

Instructions For A Funeral: Stories By David Means

Instructions For A Funeral: Stories book cover

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#47

An Ethics Of Interrogation By Michael Skerker

An Ethics Of Interrogation book cover

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#48

American Psycho By Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho book cover

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#50

kaddish.com By Nathan Englander

kaddish.com book cover

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Jessica N
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I read pretty much only bad horror, action, and "classics" but picked this up because of the cover actually. Thought-provoking and deep. I don't believe in religion or God so reading a book about someone finding their formerly lost faith in Judaism is not something I expected to enjoy. It's about much more than that, he pawns off his responsibilities as oldest son to someone he finds on internet then seeks them out out of guilt, finding himself along the way. If you have the ken or opportunity, give this a read. It's wonderful no matter what background you are coming from.

#51

Face Of An Angel By Dorothy Eden

Face Of An Angel book cover

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#52

A Cultural Dictionary Of Punk By Nicholas Rombes

A Cultural Dictionary Of Punk book cover

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#53

You Only Live Twice By Ian Fleming

You Only Live Twice book cover

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#55

The White Album By Joan Didion

The White Album book cover

No tall iconic designs have to be overloaded by detail; some preceded minimalism and created their own visual aesthetics, thus becoming real icons of book cover design.

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#56

Joseph Anton: A Memoir By Salman Rushdie

Joseph Anton: A Memoir book cover

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#57

Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings By Jorge Luis Borges

Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings book cover

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#58

I’m Glad My Mom Died By Jennette McCurdy

I’m Glad My Mom Died book cover

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viviane_katz avatar
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Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I like the retro young-adult fiction look. Jeanette McCurdy in girly pink holding an urn totally sells it.

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#59

From The Memoirs Of A Non-Enemy Combatant By Alex Gilvarry

From The Memoirs Of A Non-Enemy Combatant book cover

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#60

Aerogrammes By Tania James

Aerogrammes book cover

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#62

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest By Ken Kesey

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest book cover

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#63

The Hate U Give By Angie Thomas And Amandla Stenberg

The Hate U Give book cover

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#65

Interview With The Vampire By Anne Rice

Interview With The Vampire book cover

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#66

The Mothers By Brit Bennett

The Mothers book cover

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#68

Frankenstein By Mary Shelley

Frankenstein book cover

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markglass avatar
Lotekguy
Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The drapes of this cover don't match the carpet of the contents. Looks more like the poster for a 1940s film noir.

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#69

Everything Is Illuminated By Jonathan Safran Foer

Everything Is Illuminated book cover

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#70

Tree Of Codes By Jonathan Safran Foer

Tree Of Codes book cover

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#71

Know My Name By Chanel Miller

Know My Name book cover

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#72

Shatter Me By Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me book cover

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#73

The Stranger By Albert Camus

The Stranger book cover

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viviane_katz avatar
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Community Member
9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A reference to the climax of the novel and the narrator's moment of blindness and his excuse.

#74

Insanity By Andre Gonzalez

Insanity book cover

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