Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award

A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking

Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time – from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and string theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and clear language continues to introduce millions to the universe and its wonders.

'The most brilliant British scientist of his generation' New Statesman  

'This book marries a child's wonder to a genius's intellect. We journey into Hawking's universe, while marvelling at his mind' The Sunday Times

The Brief

The Prizes

The Judges

Classic Covers

Previous Winners

‘The Award gave me the stepping stone I needed to find a career I'm passionate about and to discover my love for illustrating literary fiction’

 

Alexandra Allden – winner of the Penguin Adult Cover Award 2011

The Brief

In A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking attempts to explain a range of subjects in cosmology, including the Big Bang, black holes and light cones, to the non-specialist reader. The book became a bestseller and sold more than 10 million copies.  It was also on the London Sunday Times bestseller list for more than five years and was translated into more than 35 languages.

We are looking for a cover design that breaks boundaries in the way that the book did when it was published 30 years ago, in 1988. It should not look like a textbook you read at school! This is a revolutionary science book with popular appeal. If you can get your hands on a copy of the book in order to get a sense of the narrative and concepts this will only help to inspire your design. The cover should feel timeless, confident and appeal to a whole new generation of readers.

Your cover design needs to include all the cover copy supplied and be designed to the specified design template – B format, 198mm high x 129mm wide, spine width 17mm.  Please refer to the Submissions Details page for full details of the spec and how to submit your entry.

What the judges are looking for:

We are looking for a striking cover design that is well executed, has an imaginative concept and clearly places the book for its market. While all elements of the jacket need to work together as a cohesive whole, remember that the front cover must be effective on its own and be eye-catching within a crowded bookshop setting. It also needs to be able to work onscreen for digital retailers such as Amazon.

The winning design will need to:

  • have an imaginative concept and original interpretation of the brief
  • be competently executed with strong use of typography
  • appeal to a contemporary readership
  • show a good understanding of the marketplace
  • have a point of difference from the many other book covers it is competing against

Copyright must be cleared for all images used in your cover design and you must include a credit line on the back cover of your design for any third party images used. For example: ‘Cover photograph by Joe Bloggs’.

 

The Brief

You are invited to design a cover look for The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole to bring this much loved classic to a new generation of readers. The design should ensure that this original and hilariously funny book remains a must-read for every child.

Your cover design needs to include all the cover copy supplied and be designed to the specified design template [link to design template PDF] (B format, 198mm high x 129mm wide, spine width 16.6mm), incorporating the PUFFIN branding and all additional elements such as the barcode.

What the judges are looking for:

We are looking for a striking cover design that is well executed, has an imaginative concept and clearly places the book for its market. The cover should encourage children to pick the book up and buy it for themselves and should also engage adults to want to buy it for them.

While all elements of the cover (front, back and spine) need to work together, remember that the front cover has to be able to work on its own, and to be eye-catching within a crowded bookshop setting as well as on screen at a reduced size for digital retailers.

The winning design will need to:

  • have an imaginative concept
  • be an original interpretation of the brief
  • be competently executed with strong use of typography
  • appeal to the broadest possible audience for the book
  • show a good understanding of the marketplace
  • have a point of difference from other books that it will be competing against in the market
  • be able to sit on the shelves of a supermarket or ebook store as easily as it sits on those of more traditional bookshops 

Copyright must be cleared for all images used in your cover design and you must include a credit line on the back cover of your design for any 3rd party images used.

For example: ‘Cover photograph by Joe Bloggs’.

 

The Prizes

1st Prize

The winner of each category will be invited to spend four weeks in the Penguin Random House Design Studios on a work placement*, working on live briefs. The work placement will be paid at the current London Living Wage rate (subject to any applicable taxation) and the winner will also receive a cash prize of £1,000.

*Subject to agreeing terms in advance. Entrants must be eligible to work in the UK.

2nd Prize

The winner of the 2nd Prize will receive a £500 cash prize.

3rd Prize

The winner of the 3rd Prize will receive a £250 cash prize.

All the shortlisted entrants will be invited to an award ceremony where the winners will be announced, and at which an exhibition of all the shortlisted designs will be on display.

 

The Prizes

1st Prize

The winner of each category will be invited to spend four weeks in the Penguin Random House Design Studios on a work placement*, working on live briefs. The work placement will be paid at the current London Living Wage rate (subject to any applicable taxation) and the winner will also receive a cash prize of £1,000.

*Subject to agreeing terms in advance.

2nd Prize

The winner of the 2nd Prize will receive a £500 cash prize.

3rd Prize

The winner of the 3rd Prize will receive a £250 cash prize.

All the shortlisted entrants will be invited to an award ceremony wh

The Judges

Penguin Random House Judges

Suzanne Dean – Art Director, Vintage

Suzanne graduated from Kingston University, where she studied Graphic Design. Her first job was at The Greenhouse, designing food packaging and brochures. A year later she was asked if she might be interested in publishing. She joined Penguin Books as a Senior Designer, working for Hamish Hamilton. Three years later she joined Macmillan, to work on the Picador list. Five years later she joined Random House as Art Director for Vintage Books, whose many imprints include Jonathan Cape, Chatto & Windus and Harvill Secker. Here she established the design for the Vintage Classics list. Her covers include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Sense of an Ending, Atonement and Murakami's Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

Richard Ogle – Art Director, Transworld

Richard graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a Graphic Design degree and the intention of working in general graphic design and packaging but was fortuitously drawn into publishing through book cover design agency The Senate. He became Art Director at Transworld Publishing within Penguin Random House in 2015. He was previously Art Director at Cornerstone’ also in the PRH Group for thirteen years. He has also worked at Pan Macmillan as Associate Art Director, and Headline Books as a Senior Designer

Over the years he has worked on a range of cover designs for books in all genres, ranging from novels by John Grisham, James Herbert, Paula Hawkins, James Patterson, Shari Lapena, Karin Slaughter, Wilbur Smith, P.G. Wodehouse, Lisa Jewell, Sophie Kinsella and Douglas Coupland, to autobiographies by Peter Kay, Tony Blair, David Jason, Rod Stewart, Steve Coogan and John Cleese.

Jason Smith – Art Director, Cornerstone

After graduating from the University of Derby with a BA Honours in Graphic Design, Jason moved to London to further his education at Central Saint Martins. He began his career working for a company which specialized in packaging for CDs and DVDs, combining his passion for music and film with design.

The move into publishing was a natural progression and he secured a job at Random House as designer, quickly followed by a more senior role. As Art Director of Cornerstone, Jason works on a list of successful authors including James Patterson, Helen Dunmore, Tony Parsons, Tim Peake and Katie Price to name a few.

Guest Judges

This year's guest judges will be announced shortly.

 

Classic Covers

Previous Winners