Cover Vs. Copy

We’re not often encouraged to judge a book by it’s cover, but when my professor assigned us to redesign the cover of a book we have read, Sugar Nation came to mind right away.

1. The Medium is the Message- By looking at this book, I expected to learn about all the places where sugar is hidden in


the American diet and how to improve our nutrition. I was also hoping to learn all the reasons sugar is detrimental to our diets, in hopes that I would have more motivation to tame my sweet tooth.While some people wouldn’t consciously think a book cover, they may just like one more than another, how much I hated the cover of this book crossed my mind every time I picked it up. Here’s why:

The author had other intentions, which was to tell more of a memoir of how Diabetes has impacted his life. I blame this miscommunication on the cover of the book, which may seem harsh, but that’s the purpose of a book’s cover and graphic design in general, is to communicate with the viewer.

2. What Meets the Eye- I also thought that the colors and fonts chosen for the cover do not match up with the overall tone of the novel. Neon blue and white is far more uplifting and dynamic than the copy beneath the cover. The main focus of the book, as I mentioned, is his own and his father’s journey with diabetes, along with commentary on how diabetes is being treated. I’m not sure about you but I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion.

3. Start at Square One- The images associated with the title take a very literal approach to the title’s message. Once again, while this communicates a connection between our nation and sugar, the title and the imagery used do not match the narrative. The caption below also doesn’t match up with the image, because nothing about a flag in a sugar bowl is hidden or related to medicine. Basically, the recommendation here is to change everything, including the title of the book.


Rather than using the imagery of only sugar and the flag, I thought it would be more effective to communicate the role sugar has played in US History, with using entertainment events like pie-eating contests as an example. This also conveys that this connection between our country and sugar is not a new phenomenon, which is important when attempting to create change. The roots run deep.Moving forward, I started to understand why the diabetes piece may have not been included in the cover. It’s hard. Utilizing medical or diabetes imagery  can be difficult to convey in a visually-appealing way. After playing around with it, I decided to take a less modern approach to the design, to at least give it more of a memoir feel.

I’m not sure this completely solves the miscommunication between the book’s topic and cover, but removing the caption hopefully opens it up for more interpretation. If the assignment called for creating our own images over finding images, I may have been able to communicate the message further; but I still believe the title starts this novel off a different path than  where the reader is taken.

I believe this shows the importance of communication between parties, the designer should never just be fulfilling orders, but rather offering creative perspective to find a way for the most effective link between the written and visual communication.

What do you think could help either of these covers?

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