How to judge a book by its cover

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Nulik, Kristina
Parcell, Lisa
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Research Projects
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Nulik, K. 2022. How to judge a book by its cover -- In Proceedings: 18th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University

INTRODUCTION: Book covers publicize and sell books by portraying meaning to society. Designers know that cover image(s), color, title and author, typeface, or a combination of these components grabs the readers' attention to further investigate a book, but it is not known how these elements work together. PURPOSE: This study seeks to determine what the eye is drawn to in the initial sighting of book covers, the importance placed on the design of a cover as a whole, and to find out how readers make a choice based on visuals. Specifically, how consumers choose books based on the cover. METHODS: Three focus groups of 8-12 participants each were conducted at the Elliott School. Looking at covers of 16 highly rated new fiction novels, participants discussed the covers in general and voted on which book cover best fit the genre and conveyed potential content and theme(s). RESULTS: Participants agreed that color schemes, font styles, and graphics work together to convey potential genre and content of a novel. For romance, more pastel colors and cursive fonts with notable tension between any portrayed characters attracted readers. Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels garnered attention with bold colors and graphics that referenced weaponry or action. Mystery novels did well with darker colors and references to murder while general fiction novels, with a wider variety of story content and themes, led participants to want to see graphics and colors working together to convey those themes and content. CONCLUSION: Book publishers should continue being creative with design elements, but need to take into consideration what readers expect to find on covers in certain genres. This will help not only in getting their attention but connect them to the themes or content of a novel.

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Presented to the 18th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Rhatigan Student Center, Wichita State University, April 29, 2022
Research completed in the Elliott School of Communication, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Wichita State University
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v. 18
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