“Best of the best.” Presumably that says it all. The cover of the December 2013 issue of Canadian Geographic featuring that main sell line was the clear winner of the magazine’s annual Cover of the Year Contest for 2013, with 47 per cent of the vote. Little wonder, perhaps: the image of a spirit bear that graces the front page was taken by renowned Canadian wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen — and it’s certainly striking.

Held each year since 2004, the Best Cover of the Year Contest sees the magazine ask its online community to select their favourite cover from each of our six yearly issues. And this year really wasn’t much of a contest, as it turns out. The December issue ran away with it and the second favourite cover — the April issue boasting a bullfrog — garnered just 16 per cent of the tally.

The results reflect our newsstand experience, where cover images featuring wildlife tend to sell much better than those without. And bears in particular seem to do especially well.

Rounding out the contest results were October’s cover image of Nunavut’s Mount Thor (15 per cent), January/February’s solar flare (12 per cent), June’s image of an oil rig drill (seven per cent) and July/August’s image of marine archeologist Ryan Harris (three per cent).

As regular Canadian Geographic followers know, in advance of each issue’s publication we solicit your feedback to help us choose our cover image.

If you don’t already receive our cover vote email but want to, simply click here and sign up for the Canadian Geographic newsletter.