Design by David Mazzucchelli
Austin Kleon here, filling in for Joe.
Asterios Polyp is a gorgeous book, and one of my favorites of the year. Unfortunately, you'd never know how good-looking it is from just looking at a scan of the cover on Amazon:
Contrast that image with a few snapshots I took of the book on my coffee table:
The 2-D image is just so-so, but when you see the book in 3-D, the design makes perfect sense: the way the dust jacket plays off the muted book boards, and the strip of yellow on the spine around the author's name that perfectly balances the whole thing...
(When it comes to JPEG injustice, another cartoonist's work comes to mind: Jordan Crane's design for Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends.)
A few smart publishers online don't settle for mere images when it comes to showing off their book designs. The comics publisher Fantagraphics often posts videos on their Flickr stream of someone flipping through their new releases. (Examples: Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle, The Sweetly Diabolic Art of Jim Flora, Tony Millionaire's Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury.) In the age of YouTube, iPhone video, and cheap Flip camcorders, I'm surprised this isn't done more often.
What are some of your favorite book cover designs that aren't done justice in 2-D?