People read books for the prose, but let’s dedicate some praise to the imagery accompanying the text. Here are some of the best book covers of all time.

Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press in 1440. Since 2016 at least 134,021,533 books are now in circulation.

With so many choices, who can decide which book to read? That’s why it’s helpful to have amazing book covers to help people choose.

The best book covers draw us in, captures our attention, and makes us want to read the book even though we know nothing about it yet. With that in mind, we’re sharing with you the best book covers ever produced.

Keep reading to learn our five favorite best book covers of all time.

  1. A Clockwork Orange

This is one of the most iconic book covers of all time. Its designer, David Pelham created it to coincide with the release of Stanley Kubrick’s movie adaptation. It took Pelham one night to design it.

A Clockwork Orange
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This book cover uses bright, primary colors to startle to its viewer. There’s just a hint of the psychotic nightmare that’s unleashed within the book.

The cog for an eye is a pun on the title. It conveys a sense of madness within society itself.

  1. The Divine Comedy 

There are several popular book covers for Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” but one of our favorites is from designer Stuart Wilson. He got his inspiration from the main story of the poem.

It’s the part that depicts Dante’s journey through Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. Wilson wanted to convey these images on the cover.

The Divine Comedy
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However, rather than using actual images, he chose colors that transition from Heaven above to Hell below. He does this to give the image impact as well as a narrative approach.

He also chose a classic Italian typeface as a way to add authority and confidence throughout the design.

Designer Stuart Wilson on how he came up with the cover for Clive James’s translation of The Divine Comedy.

  1. Beowulf 

Beowulf by Seamus Heaney is a true classic. It’s an Old English poem with 3,283 alliterative long lines.

It’s a tale about a hero from Scandinavia who helps the King of the Danes ward off attacks of his mead hall. The cover, designed by Seth Rubin captures the true essence of Beowulf.

Beowulf
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It’s a simple image of a man about to do battle. We don’t need to see his face, we already know he’s the cool hero and we want to follow him into battle.

  1. Jaws

There are two versions of this iconic image. One with the shark’s mouth closed and one with it open. Both are terrifying, though the closed mouth version seems almost scarier.

Jaws book cover
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While Peter Benchley wrote this terrifying tale of a killer shark out for revenge on a sleepy seaside community, Roger Kastel designed the memorable image. And it worked so well, Universal used the same design for the film.

  1. The Godfather

One of the most popular book covers is for The Godfather. Designed by S. Neil Fujita, it’s intriguing while at the same time, conveying the abuse of power that’s examined by its author, Mario Puzo.

The Godfather
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The puppet strings make you wonder if you’re about to begin reading a horror novel. It’s simple, yet telling of the manipulations, terror, and violence found inside this book.

And like with Jaws, the image worked so well, they kept it for the movie.

Stay Inspired By the Best Book Covers Ever

The best book covers convey a story using images rather than words. Whether you’re in the process of designing your book cover or you just love the art, it’s important to stay inspired.

We can help. Our blog has tons of articles with great tips and inspiration. Click here to learn which books to read next while traveling.