Energy at the Crossroads

Energy at the Crossroads

MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2003


The main question that Vaclav Smil attempts to address in Energy at the Crossroads is how to reconcile the modern world’s demand for energy with the need to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. As much of the book is devoted to the pros and cons of various energy sources, the author wanted a variety of these sources shown on the cover. Not wanting to resort to cheesy stock-photo depictions of things like refineries and windmills, I decided to show instead the actual sources of these energies, in their rawest, most simple forms. As well as showing the diversity of resources from which we draw energy, the simple line drawings and colors together form an image of a complete biosphere, from sky to earth.

The audience for this book ranged from researchers and scholars to energy policy makers to a general readership interested in energy matters. The challenge was to sell this book as a scholarly work, but keep it accessible to a wider audience. The design also had to position the book as a fresh look at the subject and set it apart from similar titles on energy.

Juror Notes

“Color and graphic elements meld into a cover that is completely sympathetic to its contents.” Jack Woody

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2003
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book cover


Design firm
MIT Press
Derek George
Production coordinator
Laurel Ibey
Production artist
Derek George
Vaclav Smil
Deborah Cantor-Adams
MIT Press
Trim size
7 x 9”
Quantity printed
Jacket printer
Henry Sawyer Company
MeadWestvaco Anthem White 80 lb. matte text
Book type