Adult Non-Fiction Cover Award

The Establishment by Owen Jones

‘A dissection of the profoundly and sickeningly corrupt state that is present-day Britain. He is a fine writer, and this is a truly necessary book’ Phillip Pullman

Behind our democracy lurks a powerful but unaccountable network of people who wield massive power and reap huge profits in the process. In exposing this shadowy and complex system that dominates our lives, Owen Jones sets out on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City. Exposing the revolving doors that link these worlds, and the vested interests that bind them together, Jones shows how, in claiming to work on our behalf, the people at the top are doing precisely the opposite. In fact, they represent the biggest threat to our democracy today - and it is time they were challenged.

The Brief

'One day, this Establishment will fall. It will not do so on its own terms or of its own accord, but because it has been removed by a movement with a credible alternative that inspires. For those of us who want a different sort of society, it is surely time to get our act together.' - Extract from The Establishment by Owen Jones

Published just before the 2015 general election, the arguments and vision put forward by Owen Jones in this book continue to play an important part of the political discussion and debate today. Part historical overview, part deconstruction of the way Britain is managed, the cover design should reframe the book to continue to build its reach over the next ten years. It should aim to appeal to a new audience who are not only interested in understanding the spectrum of political ideas but also want to challenge the status quo.  At the same time, it should feel fresh, accessible and an important read whatever your political persuasion.   

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 22mm), incorporating the Penguin branding and all additional elements such as the barcode. Please refer to the Submissions Details page for full details of the spec and how to submit your entry.

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’.

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 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 

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 Judges

Penguin Random House Judges

Joanna Prior

Joanna Prior – Managing Director, Penguin General Books

Joanna has had a guiding hand on Penguin’s design for many years. In her role as Marketing and Publicity Director of Penguin UK (until July 2009) she helped to position Penguin’s books for the marketplace through their cover design and through some innovative and award-winning marketing campaigns. For the past sixteen years she has also run Penguin’s art committee, which is responsible for the comprehensive collection of text-based art that adorns the meeting rooms and corridors of Penguin’s offices at 80 Strand. In her current role as Managing Director of Penguin General Books she is responsible for publishing prize winners and bestsellers, including Ali Smith, Arundhati Roy, Nick Hornby, Zadie Smith, Antony Beevor, John le Carré and Colm Tóibín.

Jim Stoddart

Jim Stoddart – Art Director, Penguin Press

After graduating in Sheffield, Jim took a placement at Bill Smith Studio in London, which turned into a job designing record and CD covers for such labels as EMI, Virgin, BMG, Mute and Trojan Records. Five years later he joined Penguin, where he worked as a cover designer for eighteen months, and then he went to work with Chris Ashworth under Lewis Blackwell at Getty Images for twelve months. In 2001 he returned to Penguin as Art Director of Penguin Press, where he has overseen the redesign and rebranding of Penguin Classics, Penguin Modern Classics and Pelican Books, as well as designing and art-directing covers for Penguin’s Allen Lane hardback imprint, the Particular Books imprint and Penguin non-fiction paperbacks.

Richard Bravery

Richard Bravery - Senior Designer, Penguin General Books and Michael Joseph

Richard studied Illustration at Falmouth and has an MA in Typography from London College of Printing. After graduating Richard worked in a variety of creative industries including Furniture Design, before embarking on a career in Cover Design firstly at 4th Estate and then with Penguin, where he has worked since 2011. As a Designer for Penguin General, he works on a wide-ranging list of authors including Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, John le Carré & Alain De Botton. 

Guest Judges

Seb Lester

Seb Lester – Graphic Designer

Seb Lester trained in Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins. He now works as an artist and designer. Lester's passion is letterforms. He has created typefaces and letterform based illustrations for some of the world's biggest companies, publications and events, including the likes of NASA, Apple, Nike, Intel, The New York Times, The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and JD Salinger's final reissue of The Catcher in the Rye. Previously a Senior Type Designer at Monotype for nine years, he developed custom typefaces for clients including British Airways, the Daily Telegraph, H&M and Barclays. His limited edition prints are becoming increasingly popular and collectible. In recent years a love of calligraphy has pushed his work in exciting new directions.

Coralie Bickford-Smith

Coralie Bickford-Smith – Designer, Illustrator and Author

Coralie Bickford-Smith is a London based designer, illustrator and author. She graduated from Reading University with a degree in Typography and Graphic Communication and works as a book cover designer at Penguin Press. Her book covers have been recognised globally, and have featured in numerous international magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Vogue and the Guardian. Her debut book, The Fox and the Star, was named Waterstones Book of the Year 2015 and was one of Time Out’s 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time. 

Published covers

  • The Establishment

  • THE PHENOMENAL BESTSELLER

    'Fantastic, timely, eye-opening' Armando Iannucci, New Statesman, Books of the Year
    'Captures a collective sense of anger and awakening' Matt Haig, Observer, Books of the Year

    Behind our democracy lurks a powerful but unaccountable network of people who wield massive power and reap huge profits in the process. In exposing this shadowy and complex system that dominates our lives, Owen Jones sets out on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City. Exposing the revolving doors that link these worlds, and the vested interests that bind them together, Jones shows how, in claiming to work on our behalf, the people at the top are doing precisely the opposite. In fact, they represent the biggest threat to our democracy today - and it is time they were challenged.

    'A book of revelations ... The Establishment have stitched it up - stitched you up - and they know it' Danny Dorling, Times Higher Education Supplement

    'A dissection of the profoundly and sickeningly corrupt state that is present-day Britain. He is a fine writer, and this is a truly necessary book' Philip Pullman

    'Owen Jones is a phenomenon of our times' David Kynaston, The Times Literary Supplement

    'You will be enlightened and angry' Irvine Welsh

  • Buy the book