Thursday 20 May 2010

Count down

Often at conferences I hear people say 'We have [X number] of seconds to grab people's attention before they walk on to the next picture / label / interactive".

The number of seconds that seems to be most frequently cited is 6. Or maybe 8. My memory is a bit shonky. But surely it's not 27.2, which is the mean number of seconds according to this study.

I thought of this figure today when reading this article about the genericitisation* book cover design, in which bookseller Jonathan Ruppin asserts that "on average, book buyers spend just 0.8 seconds looking at a jacket ". Yikes.

The article, which discusses the growing power large retailers have over book cover design, details several interesting examples of changes made to cover designs in response to requests from chain stores. It called to mind an article from a few weeks ago, about the rather odd things that happen when book covers are redesigned for international markets (my pet peeve - the gorgeous, restrained English version of Alex Ross's The rest is noise, and the meh American version).

*Genericitisation - the process of things of becoming samey. Similar to 'gentrification'. You heard it here first.

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