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ECPA announces the Top 10 Christian Book Covers of the Year

Tuesday, October 22, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sheri Toomb
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New Top Shelf Book Cover Award program chooses the industry’s best covers

Contact: Mark Kuyper, ECPA President/CEO | 480-966-3998 |

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- October 22, 2013, Wheaton, Ill -- ECPA announces the winners of the industry’s debut Top Shelf Book Cover Award program, to recognize the year's best book designs in Christian publishing, as chosen by top book designers. Managed by Faceout Studio’s Torrey Sharp, one of the new features of the award program was that judges were not limited to the number of covers to honor as the best of year; rather they had the freedom to choose as many that stood out as the top designs.

"It has been a privilege to work alongside ECPA in revamping the book design award program this year. The two main goals for the Top Shelf Award program is to feature highly credible judging and create an opportunity for the best work to be recognized,” explains Sharp. "There are amazing books being written every year; and publishers are placing value on great design as a way to enhance the content and engage readers in thought provoking and meaningful ways. They deserve to be honored.”

Winners were officially announced and presented with an award on October 22 at ECPA's annual PUBu held at Wheaton College among the industry’s design community.

The following TEN covers were chosen as the top designs of the year:

Called to the Fire
A Witness for God in Mississippi; The Story of Dr. Charles Johnson

Author: Chet Bush
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Designer: David Carlson, Studio Gearbox

Judge comment: This cover displays a masterful balance of elements. The overall effect is a deep sense of tension, and yet hope, in the midst of struggle. Elegant and emotive.

A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey

Author: Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper
Publisher: Crossway
Designer: Tyler Deeb, Pedale Design

Judge comment: This is a wonderfully simple concept that is effectively expressed through the type treatment. The look is fresh and playful, yet it maintains a serious stature and presence.

The Fruitful Wife
Cultivating a Love Only God Can Produce

Author: Hayley DiMarco
Publisher: Crossway
Designer: Connie Gabbert

Judge comment: Delightful solution that could have gone astray if not handled with a keen understanding of color and composition. The hand-lettering elevates this from the commonplace without being overdone.

God on the Rocks

Author: Phil Madeira
Publisher: Jericho Books, a division of Hachette Book Group
Designer: Wayne Brezinka

Judge comment: The combination of the concept and the production really captured a subtle humor and uniqueness of the book. The more you look at the cover the more interesting and original it becomes.

Grace in the Maybe

Author: Katie Savage
Publisher: Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster
Designer: Gearbox Design

Judge comment: Beautiful color palette and hand-drawn touches are a fine complement to the book’s subject. The result is warm and engaging. One of my favorites.

Gray Matters
Navigating the Space between Legalism and Liberty

Author: Brett McCracken
Publisher: Baker Books/ Baker Publishing Group
Designer: David Carlson, Studio Gearbox

Judge comment: The hand feel of this cover and the fun flow it creates for the eye is what draws you in. Simplicity and style with the subtle profile makes this a standout design.

Letters & Life
On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian

Author: Bret Lott
Publisher: Crossway
Designer: Studio Gearbox

Judge comment: Stylish and subtle, yet bold and engaging. Humming with life and yearning—absent of cliche. This cover captures both the art of writing and a sense of vibrant faith.

Sex & Money
Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies

Author: Paul David Tripp
Publisher: Crossway
Designer: Faceout Studio

Judge comment: The barcode on the cover has been done before, but the smart execution and minimalist approach work perfectly for this subject. Love it.

Snake Oil

Author: Becca Stevens
Publisher: Jericho Books, a division of Hachette Book Group
Designer: Jon Valk

Judge comment: Beautiful typography and illustration are intertwined to form an intriguing concept. I want to read more—mission accomplished.

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

Author: Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph
Publisher: HarperCollins Christian Publishing | Zondervan
Designer: Connie Gabbert

Judge comment: Flowing typography framed by a delicious and interesting border of colorful food helps this cover pop off the shelf.

"On behalf of the industry, we congratulate the winners of the 2013 Top Shelf Book Cover Award and thank all the publishers who participated by submitting their top book designs,” stated ECPA President/CEO Mark Kuyper. "We are very pleased to work with Torrey in the restructure of the program and excited to be already expanding the program for next year accepting ongoing submissions throughout the year from November 2013 to August 2014; and further expanding the total number of winners. Our aim remains: continue to bring recognition to excellent book design in Christian publishing.”

Judged by three industry design experts – Tim Green (Faceout Studio), Justin Ahrens (Rule29), Jill Shimabukuro (University of Chicago Press) – each submitted cover was evaluated for their merits in appropriateness for the market; level of conceptual thinking; and quality of execution. This debut year of the program saw a 26% increase in submissions and participating publishers.

Winning covers are featured in an Annual printed by Color House Graphics, designed by Faceout Studio, and distributed to the industry's designers and design professionals and throughout the industry. For a copy of the annual featuring each winning cover and judge’s evaluations, contact ECPA at

For more information on program and winners, visit


The Top Shelf Award program is administered by ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) in order to recognize design excellence in the Christian publishing industry. The membership of ECPA is made up of Christian publishers and companies providing services to the Christian publishing industry. Since 1974, ECPA has strengthened Christian publishing by building Networking, Information, and Advocacy opportunities within the industry and across multiple channels so that our members can more effectively produce and deliver transformational Christian content. Through programs, events, communications, recognition and research, ECPA strengthens publishing communities within the industry. The ECPA Design community peer group, PUBu Design training sessions, and Top Shelf Awards are among several ECPA-driven opportunities that designers have to network, stay informed, and be recognized within the industry. ECPA also connects other PUBu communities in marketing, editorial, rights, and production. For more information on ECPA programs and membership, visit or contact us at

Faceout Studio is a market leading design firm that services a broad range of national and international publishing clientele. The studio focuses on book design and film production but also works in these areas: brand design, brand identity systems, photography and product development. Over the years their work has been recognized by Communication Arts, the AIGA, the AAUP, Print magazine, The New York Book Show, Eye magazine, STEP magazine, Graphis, CMYK, Graphic Design: USA and the national American Advertising Federation. Their work has also been published in various books, most recently from Rockport, Harper Collins, Springer and Barcelona-based Mao Mao publications. They have been invited to speak at various events hosted by the AIGA, AAUP, the Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau as well as many northwest art schools. Past judging experiences have included the Independent Book Publishers Association, the American Association of University Presses, The Golden Butterfly Award show in Taiwan and the Beauty of Books in China, sponsored by the Shanghai Press and Publication Administration. To learn more about Faceout Studio or to follow Faceout, please check out the following platforms: | | | | | | Faceout Studio is on Facebook and

Printer of the Top Shelf Winners Annual, Color House Graphics is a book manufacturing company that exists to help publishers, authors and companies create and deliver great books. After 27 years of servicing the Christian publishing industry by combining craftsmanship with technology to help our customers create, print and publish great books. We encourage you to explore our website and discover how our group of dedicated people working together can provide you with superior service and quality from your first contact to delivery of your books. For more information about Color House Graphics, you can find us at or contact us at



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