They say don’t judge a book by its cover. But the truth is, we do it all the time. First impressions mean a lot. In fact, color influences 85% of decisions to complete a purchase. An intriguing book cover can make a reader pick it up and buy it, even if it wasn’t on their radar prior to seeing it on the shelf. That’s all thanks to the power of design and color.
So, what’s the best color for book cover options to get your book noticed?
The Power of Color
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to choosing the right book cover color — it will depend entirely upon your book. Think about it this way: colors communicate emotions. Is your book a horror thriller? Red and black evoke fear and foreboding. Is your book uplifting and inspirational? Yellow is a happy color. Blue is calming, ideal for a book meant to make the reader feel good, such as a memoir or book of inspiration.
Similarly, the topic of the book can inform the book color palette. For example, a book on gardening, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, should be green (or at least have green accents.) A book about American history will do well to have some combination of red, white, and blue — even if it’s subtle.
When it comes to book cover colors, don’t overthink it. When selecting colored book covers, don’t go against reader expectations. It’ll just make the book confusing to readers and difficult for you to market. Using colors aligned to the topic and genre is helpful because colors act as subliminal mental shortcuts. For example, soft pink is traditionally a feminine color, and quickly communicates that your book will appeal to women and/or girls.
If you want to subvert expectations in your cover, your book should be subversive in content. Still, it is helpful to have some small color indicator of the topic or tone on the front or back cover or spine.
Book Cover Colors that Sell Best
The literary world is fast-paced, and trends in publishing change quickly. However, self publishing and designing your own cover allows you to look at current trends and adopt them quickly. Keep in mind that if you’re going for online sales, a book cover should catch the eye of someone even when pictured in a small thumbnail image.
Brick and mortar stores are still an excellent place to go to research current trends. Search books by cover colors online or at your local bookstore to see how certain colors correlate with certain genres or book topics. You will find that the best book cover colors differ depending upon the genre and topic. Here are some common examples:
- Mystery: black, gray
- Romance: pink, red, purple, white
- Fantasy: purple, blue, green, silver, gold
- Sci-Fi: black, gray, red, green, purple
- Horror: red, black
Blue, red, yellow, black, and white tend to feature often on nonfiction covers, though it often depends on the topic. For example, a positive mindset psychology book cover will almost certainly have yellow or orange, as those colors signal friendliness and happiness.
There are some books that fall outside the scope of traditional color themes. For example, adult coloring book cover designs typically include a wider range of colors. Coloring book cover ideas should reflect the theme, such as “Blossoms” or “City Scenes,” and should reflect the colors associated with those images.
Using Color in Design
Besides the background color, there are other ways to feature a color on a book cover. For example, text on a cover includes the title, author name, quotes, and any additional information. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use the same color font for everything.
Additionally, in the focal image, contrast is your friend. Whether that is simply black and white, or complementary colors such as orange and blue, a focal image that contrasts with its background color stands out.
If you begin to get overwhelmed by all the visuals you want to include on the cover, remember that less is more. One symbolic image can often be more effective and eye-catching than cramming in several. However, children’s and young adult books can get away with more activity on the cover, especially if it involves bright colors.
A Few More Tips
- Be aware of special contexts and associations, such as the rainbow for LGBTQIA+ topics.
- Be aware of shades, tints, and tones. Darker colors are more serious, whereas lighter colors of the same hue are more inviting and gentle.
- When in doubt, go blue! If you ask a random person off the street what their favorite color is, blue is a very likely answer.
Print High-Quality Book Cover Colors That Sell Best
Writing your book was the hardest part. Let Printivity make designing and printing it easy! When you use our book printing services, simply select your spine and give us your cover design — we’ll take care of the rest. Not sure how to design your cover? Check out our design tips on Printivity Insights. Request a quote and share your book with the world today!