Some people think it’s the art on the book cover that matters, not the colors. Well . . . they’re wrong. The art is important, of course, but it’s the colors that really matter. In fact the colors are paramount. And I’ll use a birdbrain to authenticate my premise. Some people think that when birds have to go to the bathroom mid-air, they just go. Well . . . some people would be wrong again, it seems that birds do care where they poop; they discriminate on the basis of color.
A new study shows that in 37 percent of all droppings birds prefer to poop on red cars. Blue cars are second with 25 percent, black is next with 22 percent, then white with 9 percent, grey/silver 6 percent, and finally green with only 1 percent.
Don’t jump to the conclusion that this proves that birds don’t like red, but love green. Not at all, I suggest the opposite is true. How do I know? Look at the books you have at home.
The bird poop study was done in Britain and the results were announced last week. The study tracked droppings on 1,140 cars in five big cities, and found the results consistent in all five. Red is pooped on the most, green the least. Hmmmm . . . maybe that’s because only two percent of all cars are colored green. An unlikely reason. Silver grey cars count for 17 percent of all vehicles, but attract only 6 percent of the poop. The scientists who did the study insist that birds are actually attracted by some colors more than by others, some colors attract their attention better, in an apparently comfortable manner. I’m not an ornithologist, but I believe them. After all, people’s eyes work the same way. We’re not exactly color blind ourselves. Just take a moment and scan your bookshelves.
The dominant colors on book covers are red, black and blue. The only reason why you also find a lot of white on book covers is that the paper stock is white. It’s the background color. If the paper background was orange or purple, you’d see those colors instead.
Why do book covers show so much red, black and blue? Nobody is instructing cover art designers to stick to those colors. It’s automatic. Homo sapiens are attracted by red, blue, and black, apparently they give us comfort. Certainly, the same is true for brown and other dominant earth tones; very comfortable, pleasantly down to earth. But you don’t see those colors very often on book covers.
Publishers design covers for two purposes, one is conscious, and the other is subconscious. Consciously they know that they have only eight seconds to catch a potential buyer’s initial attention. That’s how long, on average, a consumer in a bookstore pauses to examine a book’s front cover. Then the seller has an additional fourteen seconds to keep the consumer’s attention; they spend that time to read that’s on the back cover. That’s all, in bookstores it’s 22 seconds only.
But it’s the subconscious decision as well, because no artist designs a cover for 22 seconds only. They know that when bought the book has a shelf life in somebody’s home for many years, usually with only the spine exposed. The average width of a book spine is a half inch, and that half inch must comfort the human eye for years to come. And the colors a designer chooses for the book spine, all over the world, is primarily red, blue, and black.
Isn’t it wonderful that British science has given us a bird pooping study that validates human color preferences?