Friday, 27 September 2013

Book Covers

Tom Tivnan has been talking about Book Cover designs as important selling tools. If you want to read the full original article, here’s the link:

Publishers, book shop retailers and authors – including me – are interested in covers. I have jotted down a few notes regarding the psychology behind them and will keep them in mind when I next design a cover. For example, research suggests that human faces on a cover trigger a positive reaction. Pink is popular.  We know little girls like pink, but surely the adult woman outgrows pink?
Neuroscientist Barbara Sahakian, professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at Cambridge University believes  “It’s clear that our instant reaction to a book cover can be the difference between picking a book up and not picking it up.”  In other words, the cover is the first hook to a sale.

There are two sorts of response to a cover. Cold Cognitive Decisions (CCD) are rational ones: no emotional component and no conflicts between rewards and punishment. You might decide between two holiday guides books, or two manuals on how to pass your driving test in a CCD way. CCD take place in the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex, towards the top of the head.

OTOH, Hot Cognitive Decisions (HCD) involve an emotional response, perhaps a conflict between reward and punishment. “In terms of books, it means choosing much more on the basis of appearance,” says Sahakian. “It’s a risk because the reward may be great but so might the punishment. But once we have had an emotional response to a book jacket, it can be hard to resist.” HCD are made in the orbital frontal cortex, right behind the orbit of the eyes, and this emphasises the visual basis of many such decisions. It has close links with the amygdala, the most emotional and primitive part of the brain. “A disturbing or arresting image such as a human face can trigger a powerful fight/flight response in the amygdala.” 
But if the amygdala senses danger, why would we go then go ahead and buy the book? The fact that we do suggests we like a bit of controlled, risk-free excitement. It is why we watch horror films, and read thrillers.
A HC reaction to a book cover may get a customer to pick a book up, but then “cognitive dissonance” can kick in. The blurb and  the opening pages must confirm the initial “hot” response to the cover, or the book goes back on the shelf.

Online research found that 79% of readers said the cover of a book played a decisive role in their decision to purchase. Book cover designers claim it’s never going to be an exact science.

 The novel Before I Go to Sleep has received various covers world-wide. Chck out the link to see some of them:
and decide which would make you pick up and buy the book.

1 comment:

Dean Crawford said...

Great post Jen! Very informative and helpful.