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Choosing the How Change Happens book cover round two: one more vote, please

March 7, 2016
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Update: It was closer than round one, but we have a winner – ripped paper with about 45% of the 350+ votes, the rest split between the other two. Thanks to everyone who voted – will pass this on to OUP.

OK, so we had a clear winner on the first vote – the ripped paper one got 66% of the 500 or so votes and my LSE students agreed. But a sizeable number of comments said ‘none of the above’, so I went back to OUP and we had a think. Some people wanted a cartoon – too NGO-y in my view. Some people wanted a photo – Arab Spring, Mandela walking to freedom etc, but OUP said that makes it look like an academic textbook (and they should know). So OUP came up with some more typographical options and this will be the last vote, honest. So please vote between these 3 options

  1. the ripped paper
  2. placard
  3. red speech boxes

Over to you:

Which of the three cover designs do you prefer?

  • Ripped Paper (43%, 195 Votes)
  • Red with speech boxes (30%, 134 Votes)
  • Placard (28%, 125 Votes)

Total Voters: 454

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HCH Ripped PaperHCH Placard

HCH Red boxes


  1. For me the ripped paper but the red speech boxes are a close second. Loving the intellectual depth of this – my level at last!

  2. Definitely not the red one. I like the concept behind the sign one but not the empty space in the middle where the eye naturally falls. The paper one is pretty good and alludes to change being both a painful process as well as one where old is replaced by the new.

  3. Of the three, I still like the ripped paper the best. It says more than the speech bubbles, I don’t like the placard – it speaks to a particular type of change, and is anyway too literal. If you are to use an image, i would prefer something more metaphorical such as a wind-vane or a meteor hitting the earth!

  4. From Addis Ababa where I looked at the options with three other colleagues and we all preferred the ripped paper (by far).

  5. For me, the placard wins. Very eye-catching. And it made me laugh. It’s got a wit to it that the others haven’t. The red speech box feels old-fashioned whilst not particularly illustrating the topic either.

  6. I like the placard but it should be 3 people holding 3 placards with a word each, thus demonstrating the need for collaboration

  7. Am I the only one that likes the blue sky?! I think its very appealing and impactful because TOCs and logframes etc creates the make believe that we all have the hang of it and can pin it down. That says its wherever it takes us…My only comment is that that if its not going to be Duncan’s hand (for which there are clear cons- no offense Duncan:) ) I would probably suggest a southerner’s hand or a mix of both if graphically possible. (happy to be in the minority on this sky for me :)

  8. Like the placard idea and the blue scky, but suggest you consider the geopolitics of a white person holding up a pristine sign in English…

  9. Still the ripped paper but make the “change” into a more human handwriting script.

    The placard is bizarre – forgetting the geopolitics raised by elisa – but why on earth would anyone write a placard with those words on it and the wave it around?

    “What do we want?”


    “When do we want it?”

    “When we’ve worked out how it happens! Oh, and when the blue sky has had some thinking done about it!”

  10. The placard is timely, but (in addition to the skin color issue which I also thought was problematic), may look dated in a few years’ time.

  11. Definitely the ripped paper – captures the idea of breaking through. Though perhaps I ought to read the book first…!

  12. I love the placard – but it fails completely for me as it implies that change might happen in one particular way (public protest) as opposed to an examination of the very many ways it might occur (as Ian says) – and I think one of the development sector’s weaknesses is to jump to an assumption that public protest is the answer when it may not be.
    The red has speech bubbles – so same problem a bit – and also just prefer the ripped paper – as Robin says it captures the idea of breaking through.
    I wonder – now that we have commented at such a high intellectual level on the cover design – do we really need to buy & read it or have we already grasped the essential concepts?

  13. Just gotta love the comments. Book cover poll as educational experience for the average person on power and metaphor?

  14. Definitely the first one, with the ripped paper and the orange. Definitely not the red one, and for some reason the blue sky cover makes me think ‘novel’.

  15. I quite liked the blue sky too but had the same reservations about whose hand, what message etc. etc. raised above. Looks like the ripped paper is still the better option. Do we all get a free copy for creative input?

  16. Oh these two are MUCH better! I like the red with speech boxes best– looks readable– but the concept of the protest sign is good, not the execution: the choice for it to be a white person when much of your content takes place outside Europe & the US seems a little off-putting. Also the sign font looks like a poor attempt to fake handwriting.

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