By Bryce Allen
2022 was a bumper year for book releases and we’d be hard-pressed to narrow down our favourites. From ground-breaking fantasy to heart-shattering romance, the book community has really been treated in the last year, and we’ve loved seeing some of our own highlights show up in ‘Best of 2022’ lists across social media.
Instead of listing our own favourite reads of 2022 (like we said, it’s hard!), we thought we’d give a different sort of rundown and highlight something that is a little more overlooked: our favourite Proof and ARCs of the year.
What is a Proof/ARC?
Ever wondered how your favourite influencers get books months before release? Or how the Goodreads page for your most anticipated read seems to have full reviews before the book is out? Enter: Proofs. Proofs, or ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) as they’re widely known in the book community, are copies of books that are sent out to influences, booksellers, and reviewers a few months before widespread release.
Proofs are important in book marketing because they offer the community their first real glimpse at upcoming releases, resulting in early reviews and the beginning of word-of-mouth interest in titles that will take off later in the year. As they’re so important, marketers often drum up interest with limited edition runs or giveaways, but where they can really push the envelope is the design.
It takes a special prospect to stand out among other Proofs and full-release titles. So, without further ado, here are the titles we think made the biggest splash with their Proof designs in 2022.
Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer, Headline Books
We admit, we’re cheating a little bit here. Isaac and the Egg started with some beautiful hardback Proofs at the end of 2021 which were limited to 100 copies and individually numbered. But what gives this Proof a place on our Best of 2022 list is its paperback Proof release.
With its block yellow colouring and minimalistic use of text, the design is simple yet incredibly effective. The eye is drawn to the black quote in the centre of the page before you notice the delicate embossing in the shape of an egg that surrounds it, inviting you to crack into the story inside. The whole design is hopeful, bright, and speaks to the potential held within the book’s pages.
Bonus points for the cute egg separating the title and author name on the spine!
Marketers: Elise Jackson and Fergus Edmonson, Headline Books.
Do No Harm by Jack Jordan, S&S UK
This next Proof is another lesson in minimalism. Released as a deluxe Proof with only 50 copies, Do No Harm takes you beyond the page with its unique wrapping – a fold-over that resembles the line on a heart monitor when closed and the mess of a bloody crime scene when opened.
We love how effective this design is with the dual colours of white and red, a pairing that is understated until the moment the reader opens the book covering. That the reader is complicit in revealing the crime scene underneath is a brilliant stroke of tactile design that evokes the themes of the book before the reader has even cracked the first page.
Marketer: Sarah Jeffcoate, S&S.
Royal Blood by Aimée Carter, Usborne Children's Books
Keeping with the theme of secrets, Usborne’s Royal Blood promises a scandal you’ll want to rip the page to get into! With the bottom portion of the cover ripped like paper and the title a composite of different papers and fonts in the style of a ransom note, Royal Blood succinctly gets across the ideas of gossip, secrets, and blackmail before you even get to the tagline.
We particularly love how cheeky the crown looks resting on the R which has clearly been cut from a newspaper for a blackmail note.
Marketers: Hannah Reardon Steward, Jacob Dow and Bethany Gooding, Usborne Books.
Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson, One More Chapter Books
While we love the Proof cover for Shauna Robinson's Must Love Books, what makes this design stand out is actually the back. In the form of a job listing, the design is already unique before the addition of scribbles and musings in the voice of the main character.
With red pen over a black-and-white listing, the notes are all-too familiar and relatable for anyone who has applied for jobs in the last decade and conveys the biting tone of the novel while creating a visual piece that we’re going to remember for a while.
Marketer: Emma Petfield, One More Chapter.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, Vintage Books
What if a book doesn't even look like a book? Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow made quite a splash when it was released, but the Proof design was equally groundbreaking.
Taking the shape of an old CD-Rom computer game, this limited edition Proof masqueraded as a game and masterfully blended its subject matter with its form.
We particularly love the use of an overlapping font to simulate both a stack of pages and 8-bit computer game graphics and the inclusion of a disc itself in the slipcase to really make this design something special.
Marketer: Katrina Northern, Vintage Books
Designer: Sally Felton
What July Knew by Emily Koch, Vintage Books
Again from Vintage Books, we get a book pretending to be something else. This time, the novel – What July Knew by Emily Koch – is instead an exercise book.
Taking us all back to our school days, this Proof design gives an immediate sense of the book’s setting. The post-it note takes the design to another level by including more stationery – this time with an ominous message.
A fantastic bonus for this design is the “This Book Belong To…” line that encourages the reader to really form a connection with and take ownership of the story.
Marketer: Kate Neilan, Vintage Books
With so many fantastic Proofs in 2022, we think you can see why it was nearly impossible to narrow down our list of favourite books from the year! Yet, in terms of concept, we think that these six books all showcase a unique element of proof marketing that makes them really special. Whether that was a beautiful limited edition run, superb minimalist design, or making a book something really unexpected, each of these books highlights the best of the year’s design.
With another year of releases upon us, we can’t wait to see what these marketers get up to this year. And, of course, we’re excited to share some of our own proof designs for the coming year like the upcoming Psyche & Eros by Luna McNamara!
As always, if you need any help with proof design, asset creation, or general book marketing queries, send us an email at email@example.com for all of your marketing needs.