In spite of the common saying "don't judge a book by its cover," studies show that actual books are overwhelmingly judged on the appearances of their covers. While studies have been conducted on what style or form of cover art is most attractive, most interesting, or most likely to sell, the current research conducts a visual analysis of the conventions contained in the covers of the best selling fiction books in the US, using the methods and ideas found in the theories of semiotics and visual culture, to offer a new perspective on the visual imagery of the covers. This study finds that the predominant trend among successful book covers is to forgo narrative in favor of recreating "experiences" tied to the content.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Book covers--Evaluation; Best sellers; Fiction
Communication and Media Technologies (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Communication (CLA)
Gallagher, Daniel Patrick, "The Look of Fiction: A Visual Analysis of the Front Covers of The New York Times Fiction Bestsellers" (2015). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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