White covers on nonfiction books

What gives with the numerous pop science nonfiction books with white covers? Both Gladwell books I own have them, as do a variety of others, as pictured here:

White book covers

Is this some bizarre trend? Does white convey authority of some kind? Is my sample size biased? These all seem like possibilities, but, judging from the shelves I’ve seen in airports too, the white cover on nonfiction seems quite popular. Only a few novels I own have white covers: Richard Russo’s Straight Man, a hardcover British edition of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep and perhaps one or two others. As for nonfiction, I have all the ones pictures as well as Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, Freakonomics, and others.


EDIT: The Los Angeles Times’ Carolyn Kellogg discusses book jackets on the blog Jacket Copy, which discusses more than just this subject.

EDIT 2: I e-mailed Tyler Cowen on the issue, noting that his first book, Discover Your Inner Economist, is white, while his forthcoming Create Your Own Economy is red. He replied: “White looks better on-line and in thumbnail form, red looks better on a table full of books…

We’ll see which one does better!”

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Quid plura? | "There's a glass of punch below your feet and an angel at your head..."

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