Home > Media Mentions > Heat mapping: Researching a Book Cover, Part 2

Heat mapping: Researching a Book Cover, Part 2


First published on www.http://janefriedman.com/.


Picking up from our earlier segment here about author Roz Morris’ blind-test research on possible book cover designs, there’s another potential asset coming to authors, although details of how it could be made available are still being considered.

Last June, Bowker Research made a presentation at The Bookseller’s Design and Marketing Conference in the UK.

28 Feb BOWKER 2In that presentation, the company offered results of a test in which some 1,500 respondents reacted to book covers, their responses generated as heat-mapping on the covers’ images.

Images seen here are from the company’s presentation and used with Bowker’s permission.

While I don’t have the narration that went with the presentation, what we’re seeing here is fascinating. As when such techniques are applied to website clicks (for use, for example, by newsrooms tracking user response to headlines), this approach allows researchers to gauge which elements of a cover receive positive or negative response.

28 Feb BOWKER 1

In many cases, Bowker broke its testing down between men and women to see if the responses would be different. There are, in fact, interesting distinctions.

The figure in the A Time for Heroes cover, for example, is a military man with a gun. The reactions to the image showed a marked difference between men and women in seeing that gun.

And women seemed to respond more readily to the title’s subtitle, “An Epic Novel of Family, Class, and Warfare,” than men tested did.

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In sum, Bowker presented heat-mapping imagery at this conference of eight covers.

And in the aggregate, it then was able to present particularly successful and less successful elements of those covers.

Clearly, this sort of understanding can be extremely valuable when applicable to an author’s covers—the research included questions to respondents about how they might feel about a given cover as a book for themselves as well as for a gift for someone else.


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