Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize announces the final winner

January 25 2016,  16.54 PM IST || Pocket Press Release

New Delhi, January 25, 2015: The Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize is a first of its kind award for brilliance in book design, an attempt by the iconic bookstore to recognize and encourage the extraordinary work of illustrators, designers and publishers throughout India.

Instituted in March 2015 the ‘Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize’ announces its winner for the first year, designer Bena Sareen for the book, ‘Talking of Justice’ by author Leila Seth, published by Aleph.

The important new prize appreciates the balance of graphics and narrative, particularly in our increasingly visual age, and believes that a book cover interprets and decodes the ensuing text in crucial ways that contribute to its ultimate success.

The distinguished jury members are all pre eminent in their particular fields and share a love and commitment to books and reading. These are Priti Paul Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group and the creative force behind the Oxford Bookstores, Namita Gokhale author, publisher and festival director, Aman Nath India’s leading heritage hotelier and architectural restorer, Alka Pande, leading art critic and curator and Dayanita Singh, prominent figure in contemporary Indian photography and bookmaking.

The Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize is a first of its kind award for brilliance in book design, an attempt by the iconic bookstore to recognize and encourage the extraordinary work of illustrators, designers and publishers across India. Under the guidance of Ms. Priti Paul, Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group, Oxford Bookstores has been pushing all boundaries to encourage the publishing industry and celebrate the business of books. Standout cover design is an integral part of the success of a book, designers and illustrators play a vital role in helping a book become emblematic and create recall.

The final award winning cover was announced at the Jaipur BookMark, which is the books and publishing segment of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, on January 22nd, 2016 at Narain Niwas Palace Hotel during the session ‘Books and Covers: Text, Graphics and Design’ with speakers Priti Paul, Dayanita Singh, Aman Nath, Namita Gokhale, Marc Parent (Taschen), moderated by Alka Pande. The final winner was chosen following a submission process and intensive discussions by the distinguished jury.

Covers of titles by designers of Indian origin and published between April 2014 and March 2015 were invited to apply for the first Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize. The final winner was chosen from a shortlist of 8 covers.

The winner was awarded with a citation, trophy and prize. The selected covers from the longlist, the shortlist aswell as the winning entry will be on display at the Mandi House Metro Station from 22nd January 2016 onwards for three months, also coinciding with the India Art Fair. A vibrant display of the shortlisted entries was also held at Narain Niwas Palace Hotel Jaipur.

Dayanita Singh, ‘A book cover is the identity of the book. It must have an impact and recall value. It has to get your attention in the book shop as well as on the Amazon site. At the smallest size, the title does not matter as much as the overall image of the book covers. It does not matter how skilled an illustration or painting it is, that is not what makes the strongest covers. Yet, to me, the element that is most crucial and the most invisible in a book cover is the type/font used.  Ironically, it is the photo portrait based book covers that catch the eye the most yet writers shy away from a face for their book as it limits, quite rightly, the imagination of the character. The Leila Seth book cover uses the colour red, which as we know is the colour we see first. It has a very simple J as the main image, it reads more as a symbol that an alphabet, and in its simplicity is its success.’

Aman Nath, ‘A cover which is sparse and not cluttered in design can grab attention much faster than one which becomes the crowd. All colours can be used to a good visual effect. Our choice depicts this description amply. For me a book cover needs to be the face in a crowd that is the most seductive. It must draw my eyes and gingers to thumb it, read the blurb and buy it. Sparse and not cluttered it can catch the attention faster… The colours must also be such as to draw attention and the typeface should be bold and graphic enough to not demand spectacles to decipher the title. The one we all chose meets these criteria.’

Namita Gokhale, ‘Understanding the vocabulary of book cover design has been a journey of discovery for me. The interaction between text and visual narrative is all the more important at a time when technology has enabled many new dimensions to the book form. It was enlightening to be with the jury at Tijara Fort and truly understand what good book cover implies. It was tough call to choose the shortlist from among the 100 or so covers submitted and the final choice was also closely contested. I am delighted Bena Sareen’s classic typographical design is the winner of the 1st Oxford Bookstore Book Cover prize.
The jury searched for integrity in graphic design, a clear visual identity and creativity.’

Priti Paul, ‘Though we say never judge a book by its cover, in reality a book cover summaries the essence of the story. We at Oxford Bookstore value creativity and design highly and through this award we aim to give the young graphic designers and artists exposure for the hard work they have been doing in making these covers a success.’

Alka Pande, ‘The cover is a taste multiplier which whets your appetite to reach out to the book.’

Orhan Pamuk ‘We cannot recall the books we most love without also recalling their covers. Book titles are like people’s names: they help us distinguish a book from the million others it resembles. But book covers are like people’s faces: either they remind us of a lost happiness or they promise blissful worlds we have yet to explore. That is why we gaze at book covers as passionately as we do faces.’

Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize announces the final winner