Keep Judging: Surprise Finalists in the Best Book Covers of 2009

Last night the voting closed for the first round of our Best Book Covers of 2009 poll: the 60 covers we nominated have been narrowed to 10 finalists, one from each of the original categories. Now all 10 category champs are on a single ballot, and voting is open for you to choose the overall best cover of the year. (Or at least the best cover among those we originally nominated.... By far the most common response we got to the poll was from people who didn't find their own favorites among our choices and wanted to have a write-in option. We agree that the choices were pretty limited when opinions on what makes a good cover differ so strongly (as we found out!), so we hope we can find a way to open things up more next time.)

What were the favorites so far? You can see all the finalists above (in the order of total votes received in the first round), and you can find the full voting order in each category after the jump. Some of the results followed my own expectations: I wasn't surprised to see The Girl Who Played with Fire and Wicked Plants make it through the first round. But there were plenty of other surprises. My money was on Dave Eggers's furry cover for The Wild Things to sweep all the way through the finals--it's such a one-of-a-kind production (which makes everyone who sees it in the flesh start giggling) that the competition actually seemed a little unfair. But zombies (and Jane Austen) apparently top wild things: The Wild Things ended up finishing third in a very close race behind the two reimagined versions of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, with the grisly pastiche Pride and Prejudice and Zombies coming out on top.

I also figured Andre Agassi's strikingly, well, open photo on the cover of Open would take the Famous Faces category with ease, but, in another close race, he was topped by the classic Philippe Halsman glamour shot of Elizabeth Taylor on the cover of How to Be a Movie Star. I guess La Liz still has star power, and her famous "violet" eyes (well, maybe not just her eyes) trump Andre's soulful brown ones.

And I was also really pleased that enough people must have liked the cover of City Boy (a memoir of urban planning, of all things, which I only came across when I was searching on Amazon for this other City Boy) as much as I did to make it the winner in Paperbacks. I'm going to try to find out more about the story behind that photograph...

We'll have more of our continuing covers coverage, but in the meantime, here's how the first round of voting turned out:

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