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Color theory is a complex subject, but over several posts,  I’m going to try and break it down to what is important to you when designing  covers.

So just how important is using color on your cover?

Take a look at these interesting statistics:

Tests indicate that a black and white image may sustain interest for less than two-thirds a second, whereas a colored image may hold the attention for two seconds or more. (A product has one-twentieth of a second to halt the customer’s attention on a shelf or display.)

Source: Jill Morton, Colorcom

So basically using color you are getting 6 times as much attention from your potential reader than if you used a monotone image.

Ads in color are read up to 42% more often than the same ads in black and white (as shown in study on phone directory ads).

Source: White, Jan V., Color for Impact, Strathmoor Press, April, 1997

Now you are probably thinking: “but we are talking about a book cover not an ad, how is that possibly relevant?” Well if you think about it, a book cover is an advertisement for the book it appears on.  And just like an ad, its going to sit among a lot of other images trying to grab your attention, Whether it’s on a shelf or in a virtual shelf such as the amazon bookstore.

Color can improve readership by 40 percent 1, learning from 55 to 78 percent 2, and comprehension by 73 percent3.

Sources:
(1)”Business Papers in Color. Just a Shade Better”, Modern Office Technology, July 1989, Vol. 34, No. 7, pp. 98-102
(2) Embry, David, “The Persuasive Properties of Color”, Marketing Communications, October 1984.
(3) Johnson, Virginia, “The Power of Color”, Successful Meetings, June 1992, Vol 41, No. 7, pp. 87, 90.

And though this bit of research was talking about Newspapers and Magazines I think its inclusion here is self explanatory. This is actually presenting a good case for including color in the body of your book too, and with e books this can be done at no extra cost. I’ll look into this in a later post.

Psychologists have documented that “living color” does more than appeal to the senses. It also boosts memory of the subject viewed.

Source:  May 2002 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, published by the American Psychological Association (APA)
“The Contributions of Color to Recognition Memory for Natural Scenes,” Felix A. Wichmann, Max-Planck Institut für Biologische Kybernetik and Oxford University; Lindsay T. Sharpe, Universität Tübingen and University of Newcastle; and Karl R. Gegenfurtner, Max-Plank Institut für Biologische Kybernetik and Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen; Journal of Experimental Psychology – Learning, Memory and Cognition, Vol 28. No.3., 5-May-2002

You want people to remember your book? Well that’s more likely to happen if you have a color cover.

92% Believe color presents an image of impressive quality
90% Feel color can assist in attracting new customers
90% Believe customers remember presentations and documents better when color is used
83% Believe color makes them appear more successful
81% Think color gives them a competitive edge
76% Believe that the use of color makes their business appear larger to clients

Source: Conducted by Xerox Corporation and International Communications Research from February 19, 2003 to March 7, 2003, margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

Again this information speaks for its self.

Vision is the primary source for all our experiences. (Current marketing research has reported that approximately 80% of what we assimilate through the senses, is visual.)

Source: Jill Morton, Colorcom
This means if we don’t use color on the cover we reducing the chances of visual assimilation by 80%.

So basically if you were thinking of using sepia tone, de-saturated images  or any other monotone format on your cover I think its safe to say it might be worth re thinking that idea.

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