I have tremendous respect for book design and its designers. I think most people underestimate the process and effort it takes to produce a truly great cover—it can be a rigorous exercise in efficiency of type and image that must check the boxes on several demands. At a bare minimum, it should conceptually capture the essence of the story within and ideally do it at a glance. It also needs to be visually compelling so that it captures people’s attention as they browse hundreds of other covers on display. When this combination of things occurs, the results can be stunning.
The New York Times recently posted their top picks for the Best Book Covers of 2014. You can see a few below but be sure to check out the article on the NYT website to see the entire list.