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An exhibition and catalog of the winners of this year's 50 Books I 50 Covers design competition.
An exhibition and catalog of the winners of this year's 50 Books I 50 Covers design competition.
579 backers pledged $49,002 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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For Those Of You Who Don't Know about 50 Books | 50 Covers 

Established in 1923 by the American Institute of Graphic Arts as "Fifty Books,” the 50 Books | 50 Covers competition is now the longest continually running design competition in the United States. Since 2011, Design Observer has hosted it. And in 2015, for the first time, we are publishing a book and mounting an exhibition to commemorate the competition winners. To learn more about the book and exhibition, keep reading.

For Those Of You Who Do 

Why do we need your support? Two reasons. First, and most importantly, we want to keep the entry fees as low as possible. We reduced the fee dramatically when we took over the competition, and think that lower fees mean that more people have the opportunity to enter. But it's not enough to cover the competition costs, and the costs related to printing the book and mounting the exhibition. Second, we feel that the design community as a whole benefits from great book design, and should be supported by us all.

The book! Deluxe edition.
The book! Deluxe edition.

About the Book

We’re producing the ultimate “book of books” to catalog the winners of this year’s 50 | 50 competition.

Publisher, author, and previous 50 Books | 50 Covers recipient Dave Eggers will introduce the book. Photographer George Baier IV, who has photographed countless authors and book jacket projects himself, has thoughtfully taken pictures of every book and cover winner. Mohawk has generously donated the finest paper. And with Blurb, we will be printing our book, offset, locally, here in the United States. We are in the final phases of design and production, we will ship the book soon. The book over 300 pages long and will ship in October.

Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.
Page spread from the catalog.

About the Exhibition

In conjunction with the book, an exhibition featuring the current winners will open at the AIGA Design Conference this October, in New Orleans. While a number of partners and AIGA chapters have expressed interest in having the exhibition travel to them, the bottom line remains clear: it's not cheap to build and ship an exhibition. Raising more money means we can mobilize our efforts for greater impact: simply put, this means more people—from students to educators, designers to the general public—will have the opportunity to see the actual books themselves. What's better than getting to hold a beautifully, carefully designed book in your hands?

Some of the winners of this year's competition. 

The following images are 2014 selections, photographed by George Baier.

Cooper Hewitt's Making Design, glow in the dark cover editions. One of the 50 Books selections.
Cooper Hewitt's Making Design, glow in the dark cover editions. One of the 50 Books selections.
A detail shot from Hans Richter. Il ritmo dell'avanguardia, a 50 Books selection.
A detail shot from Hans Richter. Il ritmo dell'avanguardia, a 50 Books selection.
Detail shot of the cutout cover of Perfect Nonsense, a 50 Books selection.
Detail shot of the cutout cover of Perfect Nonsense, a 50 Books selection.
Detail shot of Meno Celes, from the Vilnius Academy of Arts, a 50 Books selection.
Detail shot of Meno Celes, from the Vilnius Academy of Arts, a 50 Books selection.
Detail shot of Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots, a 50 Books selection.
Detail shot of Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots, a 50 Books selection.

At Design Observer we make no secret of our love for books. In 2015 alone, we initiated the Thesis Book Project—a platform to share and promote final degree publications from all over the world; we launched a publishing imprint, Observer Editions; and are releasing the first issue of a new journal, Observer Quarterly.

We believe that books matter. We want to put these books in as many hands as possible, and we need your help.

Thank You.

Risks and challenges

Our project is well under way. We have judged the competition, photographed all the books, designed our catalog, printed test pages, and have begun to design the exhibit in New Orleans. However, there are factors outside of our control, including printing snafus, shipping delays, and weather. We are hopeful that none of these potential issues will arise, but if they do we will let all our backers know immediately what our new plans are.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $8 or more About $8

    THANK YOU: Your name will be included on a special page on the Design Observer website dedicated to 50 Books | 50 Covers. You will also receive a personal email thank you.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    EXHIBITION SUPPORTER: Your name will be included in the traveling exhibition as a supporter.
    * Also includes Thank You above.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    50|50 POSTER: A poster that includes all the 2014 book and cover selections. Poster ships folded.
    * Also includes Exhibition Supporter above.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    EARLY BACKER SPECIAL: Be among the first 200 backers to pledge and receive a copy of the 50 Books | 50 Covers catalog.
    * Also includes Exhibition Supporter above.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    CATALOG: The 50 Books | 50 Covers catalog.
    * Also includes Exhibition Supporter above.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    DELUXE EDITION: A deluxe edition copy of the 50 Books | 50 Covers catalog with dust jacket.
    * Also includes Exhibition Supporter above.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    TWO BOOK SPECIAL: A copy of both the deluxe edition catalog and the regular catalog (to share with a friend).
    * Also includes Exhibition Supporter above.

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    Limited 39 backers
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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    THREE BOOK BUNDLE: Three copies of the 50 Books | 50 Covers catalog and one copy of the 50|50 poster.
    * Also includes Exhibition Supporter above.

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    Pledge $225 or more About $225

    EXHIBITION SPONSOR: You will be featured prominently in the exhibition as a sponsor and be listed as such on the 50 Books | 50 Covers exhibition site, with image and 50 word description. As well you will receive a deluxe edition of the 50 Books | 50 Covers catalog with dust jacket.

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    Reward no longer available 25 backers
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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    EXHIBITION SPONSOR: You will be featured prominently in the exhibition as a sponsor and be listed as such on the 50 Books | 50 Covers exhibition site, with image and 50 word description. As well you will receive a deluxe edition of the 50 Books | 50 Covers catalog with dust jacket.

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    Pledge $850 or more About $850

    1923 CELEBRATION: (Limited to 1) A copy of the 1923 Typography Annual to commemorate the year 50 Books began, and everything included as an Exhibition Sponsor.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    PRIVATE VIEWING: (Limited to 10) A private viewing of the 100 winners, and cocktails with Design Observer in New York City. Date to be determined.
    * Also includes Exhibition Sponsor above.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    CUSTOM WORKSHOP: Jessica Helfand, co-founder of Design Observer, AIGA medalist, and Yale faculty will teach a workshop . Restrictions apply: Dates subject to availability and workshop topic to be negotiated. Travel expenses are not included.
    * Also includes Exhibition Sponsor above.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    PRIVATE EXHIBITION: Bring the exhibition to your space! Dates and schedule to be determined. Restrictions apply: The location is subject to our approval, to ensure the safety of the books. The available dates will vary depending on location and exhibition schedule.
    * Also includes Exhibition Sponsor above.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    DESIGN MATTERS INTERVIEW: Debbie Millman will interview you on her popular Design Matters podcast. Restrictions apply: The interviewee is subject to our approval, and the date will vary depending on taping schedule.
    * Also includes Exhibition Sponsor above.

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Funding period

- (30 days)