Take a look at the country's best looking books — or at least those that were last night named the winners at the Publishers Association of New Zealand Book Design Awards.

From 110 entries, a four-strong judging panel whittled the finalists' list down to 33 books — and graphic design lecturer David Coventon, designers Janson Chau and Anna Brown, and book-seller Kiran Dass didn't just judge the books by their covers only.

Coventon, the judges' convenor, says they lifted, sniffed, flipped and pondered multi-faceted design decisions which included considering aspects like the stock, the binding and even the smell of the books.

New China Eyewitness: Roger Duff, Rewi Alley and the art of museum diplomacy edited by James Beattie and Richard Bullen (Canterbury University Press), designed by Aaron Beehre was the big winner.

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It took home the Penguin Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book and the HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover, before collecting the Gerard Reid Award for Best Book sponsored by Nielsen Book.

"As a complete package, it's exquisite," says Coventon, who described it as a fine example of respectful and thoughtful production values.

"The paper stock is beautiful. The finely-tuned, nuanced attention to detail makes for a striking and high-quality end product. It accomplishes a great deal of refinement in the face of a complex and demanding set of design requirements."

Other winners were:

Upstart Press Award for Best Non-Illustrated Book
Allen Curnow Biography and Poems Slipcase edition by Terry Sturm. Edited by Linda Cassells, Elizabeth Caffin and Terry Sturm (Auckland University Press), cover design by Sarah Maxey, interior design by Katrina Duncan

Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children's Book
Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House), design by Vida and Luke Kelly, Kelly Design, illustrations by Gavin Bishop

Edify Award for Best Educational Book
The New Zealand Art Activity Book: new edition by Helen Lloyd (Te Papa Press), designed by Kate Barraclough, Kate Frances Design

1010 Printing Award for Best Cookbook
Eat Up New Zealand by Al Brown (Allen & Unwin New Zealand), designed by Gary Stewart, The Gas Project

Mary Egan Publishing Award for Best Typography
A Moral Truth edited by James Hollings (Massey University Press), cover design by Gideon Keith, Strategy Creative, interior design by Gideon Keith and Carla Sy

Rachel Clark was named Allen & Unwin Young Designer of the Year 2018 for work which included The Art of Simple by Eleanor Ozich, Bird Words edited by Elisabeth Easther, Heloise by Mandy Hager and Hideaways by Hilary Ngan Kee and Sam Stuchbury.