Keenan’s Design Cracks 50 Books/50 Covers


July 1, 2013





MADISON, N.J. — A woman’s legs, tulips, a film camera, and saluting hands incite a cinematic vertigo in a design that spirals around a hard-to-miss open eye. This is the cover of Jürgen Fauth’s literary thriller Kino, the story of a young women out to redeem her grandfather, a silent film director during the Nazi regime.

Jamie Keenan, the creator of this cover, is a freelance, London-based designer of both European and American fiction and non-fiction titles, like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Mary Roach’s Stiff. He has previously been recognized by both the British Design & Art Direction (D&AD) and the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA) for his designs. And now, Keenan’s Kino cover has been chosen as one of the best English language book covers from anywhere for 2012.

The contest was held by several art and design organizations, including Design Observer, AIGA and Designers & Books. Tracing back 90 years, the 50 Books/50 Covers contest allows a jury of book designers to choose the best designs for book interiors and covers each year. With over 1,200 submissions, Keenan’s cover ranked in the top 6% in the contest. The Design Observer announced that this year’s submissions “demonstrate astonishing attention to craft, as well as startling ambitions to disrupt expectations about what constitutes a ‘traditional’ book in the first place.” It’s designers like Jamie Keenan who are progressively veering from traditional cover design as the publishing industry also changes.

In a past interview, Keenan described his approach when designing a cover for fiction. “Book covers are strange–as a designer you’re asked to get across everything about the book without actually showing anything at all (because that’s the reader’s job)–and as a result, less is generally more.” Keenan sees the design of a book cover to be a “translation–converting something written into a visual equivalent.”

And as if making it to the top 50 were not enough, another of Keenan’s 2012 covers for Atticus Books, An End to All Things by Jared Yates Sexton, joined a select group of designs nominated for the contest.

Keenan has helped brand the Atticus press with his illustrious trademark on 12 book covers. His Atticus cover designs include Nazareth, North Dakota (2011), Three Ways of the Saw (2012), Apostle Islands (2012), The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice (2012), and the forthcoming anthology Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine (2013).

Readers can expect to see more Atticus covers by Keenan in the future, including Armageddon, Texas, the last book of the The Messiah Trilogy by Tommy Zurhellen. Meanwhile, feel free to stack him against the other exceptional designers and their 49 best covers of 2012 at either The Design Observer or the Los Angeles Times.



Atticus Books is a publishing house based in Madison, NJ that specializes in literary fiction. Atticus is run by founder and publisher Dan Cafaro and assistant editor Libby O’Neill. Visit us on the web at


Contact: Abby Hess, Publicity Assistant / 570.419.1190


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