It was, I presume, one of those classic tussles of which my publishers will be veterans. My first reaction to the cover design they sent me was: looks great, a clever idea carried out well graphically – but no way.

Although the book is balanced, original and propositive, I know there will be some who will assume that it is ‘anti-aid’ and negative, and try to write it off as ‘heard it all before’. My book tries to carve out new territory, not fall back on what is one of the biggest clichés in the business, that aid is just a ‘sticking plaster’. In discussions while I was writing the book and since, some commentators have argued against things I don’t say in the book, but which they assume are my arguments. I was worried by a cover that appeared to give them ammunition.

Another option I was shown was more positive. Here it is with the wrong title (trying to agree on a title was a whole other story!).

I quite liked this alternative cover, despite the Little Chef logo meant to represent food security (I presume), because it looks positive and reminds me of funky wallpaper. But the publisher insisted that the 'plaster' cover was receiving great feedback from bookshops and ultimately I bowed to their expertise.

In many ways the book does argue that aid is like a plaster. It has some very positive effects, while failing to get to the root of the problems. And aid also covers up those very problems, making it harder to deal with them. It’s just that there is so much more to it than that. While it is common to argue that aid is good but not enough, in my book I explain how aid can actually harm development in many countries. Plasters don’t do that.

But I suppose no cover image can comprehensively describe the contents of a book. So we’ll let the cover stand. And it does, at least, look good.

posted by Jonathan Glennie @ 05:27

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