12 Cool Visualizations to Explore Books

Posted to Visualization  |  Nathan Yau

There’s reading a book, and then there’s looking at, exploring, and experiencing a book. That’s what these 12 book visualizations are for.

Cover Pop

Thousands of books are displayed as one giant pile, arranged horizontally by time, and vertically by color of the cover.


Put in a search query, and get the results arranged in a way that spells out your query. Below was my search for visualization. I didn’t even notice that something was being spelled at first.

Four Stories

Ben Rubin’s work at the Minneapolis Public Library. It’s beautiful physical installation that shows the most recently checked out books on two elevator cab displays.


Actually five different views for books on Amazon – grid, stack, pile, list, and graph. Below is the graph view which shows books on a two-dimensional graph with price on the y-axis and sales rank on the x-axis.

Text Similarities

Taking a look at the similarities between works of text. Radius is word count and central angle represents coinciding words.

Touch Graph Amazon Browser

Books arranged in network graph format. Type in a search term and get initial search results; wait a little longer and related books will start popping up.


An oldie, but a goodie. Most well known for visualizing Alice in Wonderland in a way we’d never seen before. TextArc is one of my favorites.


Amaznode is similar to the previously mentioned Touch Graph, putting search results and related book in network graph form.

Literature Map

This one focuses on the authors and uses some kind of multidimensional scaling to place similar authors closer to each other.

Bible Cross References, Social Network, and Distributions

This is actually three different visualization by Chris Harrison for the grand daddy of all books in the world (sales-wise) – the Bible.



19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World. Top All-time. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. Watch.

Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.

Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically

There are a lot of great craft breweries in the United States, but there is only so much time. This is the computed best way to get to the top rated breweries and how to maximize the beer tasting experience. Every journey begins with a single sip.

Where People Run in Major Cities

There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep track of your running, riding, and other activities. Record speed, …

Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Jobs and pay can vary a lot depending on where you live, based on 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s an interactive to look.