There’s nothing quite like getting a new book; UPS knows me by my first name because I order so many! I woke up with this question this morning: is there a correlation between the color of a book’s cover, digital or physical, and its success within its genre? I took a look at several New York Times Bestseller lists to find out.
In the top 5 books in fiction, we see primarily copper, gold, silver, and ochre in spades and accents of lavender and bright blue. Granted, 3 of the 5 are from the same author, which might skew the results a bit, but nonetheless, warm colors and metallics rule the day for this genre. This makes sense as the 3 books by George R.R. Martin all deal with a world of royalty and opulence.
Of the five books present in the nonfiction category, we find a lot of warm colors, again. Here though, they are rich, non-metallic, and darker - much like the subject matter they enrobe. Looking at the covers, we see a range of colors from a memoir done up in nostalgic cream to a first person account of heaven wrapped in joyful yellow to a vibrant orange cover of a tale of scientific discovery. The two historical books in this genre are a sepia-toned look back World War II next to a similarly themed look at an American family’s time in Hitler’s Berlin.
The top selling nonfiction books show us, in color and in subject matter, that real life is a dizzying mix of dark and bright, grand and personal, recollective and modern.
Not quite as bold as comic books meant for children, the best selling graphic novels’ covers present us with a color palette of hues as dark and straightforward as the stories they portray. Whether looking at the modern yellow and gray of the newest X-Men novel or the dingy vintage orange of “Paying for It,” a seemingly seedy account of one man’s experience being a john, all the covers in this category allude to the grittier stories to be found in their pages.
Arguably the brightest covers of all those so far, it is appropriate that the top 5 children’s books give us saturated primaries, lapping flames, and bright lettering with only one black and white cover. The two books boasting primary colors deal with more simplistic subject matter while the flame-licked cover of “The Throne of Fire” sits squarely in the jewel-toned fantasy world where “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is well-served by the black and white of its cover, conjuring thoughts of long-lost mysteries yearning to be solved.