You all knew I'd have to crowdsource some element of a book on crowdsourcing, right? A few weeks ago my British publisher, Random House UK launched a "coversourcing" campaign which, if you didn't guess from the name, involves crowdsourcing the design for the dust jacket of the British edition of the book. It's pretty standard-issue crowdsourcing: The crowd submits the designs and votes on their favorites. It's already generating some awfully nifty covers, and I couldn't be happier to see my ideas given such wonderful visual treatment, as the title of my post—a riff on the Beastie Boys' crowdsourced concert film, Awesome! I F***ing Shot That!—surely makes clear.
I'm declining to endorse a candidate for the time being, but here's an example of the level of quality design coming in:
(Above: "Crowdsourcing" Cover Design, by hello.vickibrown)
Here are some details on the contest:
Design submissions will be welcomed until midnight GMT 10th February 2008. Following this period we will invite users to vote for their favourite Crowdsourcing designs between 11th – 25th February to create a shortlist of the 20 most popular designs. These will then be put to a panel vote from which the winning entrant will be chosen and crowned winner of the Coversourcing competition. The winner will be announced on 3rd March.
And here's the creative brief:
We are seeking a striking, iconic book jacket design which should engage on the strength of its concept and composition rather than rely on finishes and production values. The cover design should be bold, dynamic and eye-catching and should sit as comfortably on shelves at your local high street book shop as it would as a thumbnail image on Amazon. We’d love it if the chosen jacket was a collaboration - a true expression of the power of crowdsourcing. So if you want to collaborate with other artists & designers - illustrators, photographers, typographers - we heartily recommend it.
For more on creative direction and rules, go here.
I'd initially suggested Random House UK allow the crowd to pick the ultimate winner, but I understand the reasoning behind having a jury. Frankly, it's remarkable that a big publishing house would relinquish as much control over so crucial an element as cover design. Kudos to Adam Humphrey and his team in Random House's marketing department for putting together such a innovative promotion.
It is, as far as we can tell, one of the only times book cover design has been tossed out to the crowd. Guy Kawasaki—a guy who got more done yesterday than we did all year— conducted a similar campaign for his book The Art of the Start. If the final results are half as good as Guy's, I'll be stoked.