Best book covers of 2019 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

I keep an eye out during the year for cool covers and flash-as book production. Here are my five 2019 standout moments in New Zealand publishing:

Absolute winner - The Absolute Book

This is my favourite cover of the year. Natural, bucolic, beautiful - it has resonated with me from the moment I saw this tweet from Victoria University Press. This stunner of a cover is the artwork Lost (2014) by Australian artist Catherine Nelson

Catherine Nelson is an Australian artist, living in Belgium and the Netherlands, who uses digital technology as her paintbrush creating landscape ‘paintings’ and animations.

And that typeface is *chef's kiss*.

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox. Published by Victoria University Press.

"All of this is for you": Ruby Jones

After the Mosque Attacks in Christchurch on 15 March, Wellington-based artist and writer Ruby Jones shared her illustration featuring two women embracing, with the words ‘This is your home and you should have been safe here.’ Next stop - illustrating the cover of Time magazine. Now she has a book published by Penguin Random House All of this is for you: A little book of kindness. What's extra special about Ruby's book is the pasteup campaign that the people of Ōtautahi have been enjoying around town. Way to take a book to the people. Way to take kindness to the streets. Brava Ruby and Penguin Random House.

All of This Is for You

'Funny as' covers x 4

Funny as: The story of New Zealand comedy by Paul Horan and Philip Matthews was a great companion piece to the broad-ranging tv series. It certainly wasn't a retread, and went on its own deep dive into NZ comedy. I love that there are extended interviews on NZ on screen. I love that the book  has 4 - count 'em - cover options. Nicely played, Auckland University Press.

Funny as - UBS stall
Funny as - WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View. Friday 13 September 2019. Flickr 2019-09-13-IMG_7112

Funny as

This Lady's not for turning

When have book covers (and magazine and newspaper covers) been a field of combat? Michelle Duff's book Jacinda Ardern: The Story behind an extraordinary leader published by Allen & Unwin certainly got the trollerati's knickers in a twist. It's #TurnArdern versus ...


And coming out next year, this fab looking picture book by David Hill.


Jacinda Ardern

Here we are

We are here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall and Tim Denee, published by Massey University Press. It's an important book, offering a new way of looking at New Zealand - geographically, culturally, and economically. This is one to buy, to keep, and to revisit repeatedly. 

We Are Here

More book cover pleasures of 2019




Poetry books are often well produced, with fab covers galore.



You can rely on New Zealand book covers for a dramatic typeface and smart deployment of words.



Whether she's designing covers for her own books, or for others, a Sarah Laing cover is distinctively gorgeous.



Keely designed the cover of Craven by Jane Arthur and lots more brilliant covers.

Check some out in her Instagam post ...


Browse more covers of New Zealand books published in 2019.

More best book covers

Best book covers of previous years

For more on local book covers and design, see the PANZ Book Design Awards.