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books we love


50 Books / 50 Covers

Every year since 1923, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, a.k.a. AIGA, has held the 50 Books/50 Covers competition in the United States. 

Thoughtfulness is not only put in to the design, but also how the books are produced. Michael Carabetta, who was a judge in this year’s competition, mentioned the books chosen excelled “not only in design—[but] in production; in paper, mixing coated and uncoated… People are getting into the real, physical qualities of the book.”

Here are a few of our favorites: 



Photos © Design Observer


Books We Love: Bibliotheca - Bible Redesign For Easier Reading

We love this collection of books that contain a redesigned version of The Bible which allows for easier reading. The books are still available on Kickstarter.

"The Bible is sometimes called the greatest story ever told. Its typography, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. Unlike the layout of novels, the layout of the Old and New Testament discourages reading the book from front to back. Normally printed as a single, 2,000-odd page volume with microscopic, two-columned text, the Bible's typography is designed with reference, not readability, in mind. No wonder that while 73% of Americans say they are Christian, only one in five Americans will cop to actually reading the Bible on a regular basis.

A new Kickstarter project by Santa Cruz typographer Adam Lewis Greene is hoping to improve Biblical literacy. Called the Bibliotheca, the project is a new printing of the Old and New Testaments that is designed to be read from cover to cover. Greene's goal is to put readability first.


The idea behind Bibliotheca is simple: What if we printed the Bible as if it were just another long book? Instead of trying to cram the 726,000 words of the New International Version of the Bible into a single volume, Bibliotheca splits it up into four attractive hardcover volumes, two each for the Old and New Testament. This is designed to make the typographical layout roomier and more psychologically approachable. Couple that with the adoption of a larger, custom sans serif font, line lengths optimized for readability, and the abandoning of verse numbers, and you have a Bible that wants to be read like a short story collection-- even if its page-to-text proportions are based on the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (and they are!).

It might seem like a relatively strange way to present the Bible, but as Greene points out, the verse and chapter numbers we associate with the Bible as reference points are actually relatively recent additions, having first been introduced in the Medieval era. He also argues that the Bible was originally meant to be experienced, not as a spiritual encyclopedia, but as literature.

"Today, our contemporary bibles are ubiquitously dense, numerical, and encyclopedic in format; very different from how we experience other classic and foundational literature, and completely foreign to how the original authors conceived of their work," Greene writes."

Sources: Fast Co Design and Bibliotheca


Books We Love: Gestalten - The Outsiders

Books We Love: Gestalten - The Outsiders




"The book captures the refreshing and evolving ethos of today’s smartly successful outdoor and lifestyle entrepreneurs and features interviews with key players from across the outdoor sector. Catering to modern globetrotters, these innovators are rethinking the ways in which the fundamental challenges posed by the wilderness meet the aesthetic needs of design-literate adventurers. The results are often radical, but always likeable with the occasional romantic or ironic wink."

Source: Gestalten





Books We Love: The Drinkable Book

Books We Love: The Drinkable Book


"A team of scientists and engineers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia have developed ‘The Drinkable Book’, a life saving tool that filters water and teaches proper sanitation and hygiene to those in the developing world. Designed by New York-based typographer Brian Gartside for non-profit organization waterislife, each book is printed on technologically advanced filter paper capable of eliminating deadly waterborne diseases, as it is coated with silver nanoparticles, whose ions actively kill diseases like cholera, typhoid and E.coli.

Once liquid is passed through the filter, bacteria count is reduced by over 99.99%, cleaning the water to a quality comparable to standards in north america. the pages cost only pennies to produce; each sheet from ‘the drinkable book’ is capable of giving someone in need up to 30 days worth of clean water, and features a paper supply that filters up-to 5000 liters."

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

step 1: tear out one of the pre-perforated sheets. each one will filter 100 liters of water

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

step 2: place the page in the slot, located in the base of the custom filter-box

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

step 3: replace the pressure plate, and pour water through; what collects in the lower reservoir is safe to drink

this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper
this drinkable book cleans and purifies water with advanced filtering paper

The sheets cost only pennies to produce.

Source: Design Boom

1692 Guide to Paint and Color: 271 Years Before Pantone

1692 Guide to Paint and Color: 271 Years Before Pantone

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

"In 1692 an artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.

Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who translated part of the introduction, the color book was intended as an educational guide. The irony being there was only a single copy that was probably seen by very few eyes.

It’s hard not to compare the hundreds of pages of color to its contemporary equivalent, the Pantone Color Guide, which wouldn’t be published for the first time until 1963.

The entire book is viewable in high resolution here. The book is currently kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France."

Source: Colossal

Books We Love - Out of the Blue: The Essence and Ambition of Finnish Design

Books We Love - Out of the Blue: The Essence and Ambition of Finnish Design



"Finland is a country of stark contrasts between nature and high-tech, tradition and unpredictability. It is known for its impressive school system and breathtaking lakes and forests, but also for its love of sauna taking, air guitar playing, and lots of coffee drinking. Its culture and a strong craft tradition have brought up some of the world’s most impressive designs, designers, and design-related brands."


"Out of the Blue showcases Finland’s unique design culture from legendary figures like Alvar Aalto and heritage manufacturers such as Marimekko, Iittala, Artek, or Nokia to a new contemporary generation of chefs, explorers, makers, and entrepreneurs. The book takes an insightful and entertaining look at the typical Finnish characteristics of inventiveness, community spirit, love of liberty, ongoing transformation, and the free rein to be wacky."

Check out the book here on the Gestalten website.







Books We Love - Printing Things: Product Design Visions and Essentials for 3D Printing

Books We Love - Printing Things: Product Design Visions and Essentials for 3D Printing


Printing Things 1

"3D printers will soon be found in more and more workshops, offices, and homes. With them, we will be able to print out small pieces of furniture, prototypes, replacement parts, and even a new toothbrush on-site at any time. Consequently, new production methods and business models are developing—along with a new visual language of multidimensional formal explorations. Today, 3D objects and complex forms can already be printed out that were previously impossible to achieve with traditional methods."

Printing Things 2

"Printing Things is an inspirational and understandable exploration of the creative potential of 3D printing. The book not only introduces outstanding projects, key experts, and the newest technologies, but it also delves into the complex topics that these paradigm-shifting technologies bring up, such as how to handle copyrights and seamless manufacturing."

Check out the book here on the Gestalten website.

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Books We Love - The Public Library: A Photographic Essay

Books We Love - The Public Library: A Photographic Essay



"Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to a public library: the unmistakable musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly discovered books. Today, the more than 17,000 libraries in America also function as de facto community centers offering free access to the internet, job-hunting assistance, or a warm place to take shelter. And yet, across the country, cities large and small are closing public libraries or curtailing their hours of operation. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the country documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson's photographs— from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California's one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson's revealing photographs are essays, letters, and poetry by some of America's most celebrated writers."


Also, check out Dawson's interview with NPR here!




Books We Love - Visual Storytelling

Books We Love - Visual Storytelling



"Visual storytelling uses graphic design, infographics, illustration, and photography to convey information in the most elegant, entertaining, and informative way. Today, the creative scope of existing visual storytelling techniques is being expanded to meet the formidable challenge of extracting valuable news, surprising findings, and relevant stories from a daily flood of data head on. Visual Storytelling is the first book to focus solely on contemporary and experimental manifestations of visual forms that can be classified as such. The rich selection of cutting-edge examples featured here is put into context with text features by Andrew Losowsky and interviews with experts including the New York Times, Francesco Franchi, and Golden Section Graphics."





Books We Love - Autoban

Books We Love - Autoban



Based in Istanbul, Autoban is one of the most sought-after design studios worldwide. Founders Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar create gorgeous furniture pieces and spectacular interiors at the nexus between Asia and Europe, tradition and modernity—a fitting reflection of the city in which they live and work and whose contemporary landscape their design now defines. gladly accepted an invitation by Özdemir and Çağlar to Istanbul to experience some of their stunning “spatialities” on location. From passion and dreams to hustle and bustle—everything that happens in the city becomes a design inspiration and functions to form a distinctive visual experience. Stroll with us here in this mesmerizing city. Çok teşekkür ederim!

This book presents a rich selection of Autoban’s breathtaking projects that are documented in striking photographs and plans. The distinctive concepts for restaurants, hotels, apartments, offices, and retail spaces showcase the studio’s worldview between global cosmopolitanism and its own cultural idiosyncrasies. Insightful texts give further insight into Autoban’s creative process and philosophy.


autoban_web_1 autoban_web_3

Books We Love - Designing News: Changing the World of Editorial Design and Information Graphics

Books We Love - Designing News: Changing the World of Editorial Design and Information Graphics




"In Designing News, award-winning editorial and infographics designer Francesco Franchi conveys his vision for the future of the news and media industries. He evaluates the fundamental changes that are taking place in our digital age in terms of consumer expectations and the way media is being used. The book then outlines the challenges that result and proposes strategies for traditional publishing houses, broadcasting companies, journalists, and designers to address them.

Designing News explores how today’s media outlets can become credible, cross-platform news brands. Franchi advocates redefining reporting as telling a continuous narrative across a broad range of traditional and digital media. To this end, he proposes a new, integrated role for editorial designers in advancing the evolution of media for the future.

Franchi’s findings in Designing News are based on his own work for Il Sole 24 ORE as well as case studies by top media insiders including Bloomberg Businessweek’s Richard Turley, Thomson Reuters’s Daniele Codega, the New York Times’s Steve Duenes, the Times’s Matt Curtis, and type designer Christian Schwartz."

(Source: Gestalten)

designingnews_page2 designingnews_web_13

Books We Love - The Wes Anderson Collection

Books We Love - The Wes Anderson Collection


"New York magazine critic Matt Zoller Seitz’s lavish geekfest The Wes Anderson Collection is filled with stills from the director’s films, colorful illustrations, and images of vintage books — real ones and others created specifically for the movies. The Anderson visual aesthetic is ubiquitous, but it’s the director’s voice that is most powerful throughout this must-have book for movie buffs. His conversations with Seitz, whose insights into Anderson’s work add another welcome dimension, provide quite a bit of context for the enigmatic filmmaker, whose signature style has influenced more than just cinema, but also music and fashion. Anderson divulges every little influence he can, from other directors and movies that influenced single shots (Seitz points out the similarities between Jason Schwartzman’s Max Fischer and a young Tom Cruise “without the mastery”) to literary inspirations, from obvious names like J.D. Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald to Stefan Zweig."


"All of those elements, along with a Michael Chabon introduction that adds an extra literary touch, make The Wes Anderson Collection so much more than just another book to go on your coffee table; rather, it offers rare insights into the mind and creative process of one of the most influential directors working today."

Thanks to Flavorwire for the article!

Books We Love - Around the World: The Atlas for Today

Books We Love - Around the World: The Atlas for Today



Looking through an atlas has always been a fascinating way to explore the world. Around the World is a contemporary evolution of an atlas tailored to our information age. With eye-catching graphics, current topics, and clear texts, the book is for anyone who is curious about the state of our planet and how we live today.


Books We Love - Designing Patterns

Books We Love - Designing Patterns



Patterns are everywhere and everyone wants to know how to make them. This practical handbook offers expert advice on how to create timelessly elegant pattern designs.

In this book, readers are shown how to use the most common techniques for creating patterns and the best ways to combine colors and forms by one of Scandinavia’s leading pattern designers. With the help of photographs and personal anecdotes, she also explains how she works, what inspires her, and why edges are just as important as middles.

From conceptual questions to intricate details, this book elucidates all of the facets involved in designing patterns. The included CD features templates for ten sample projects, which both beginners and professionals can use to experiment and get started on their own work.

Lotta Kühlhorn—Home Swede Home from Gestalten on Vimeo.

Books We Love - Winkreative Design Stories

Books We Love - Winkreative Design Stories


A Global View on Branding, Design and Publishing

An insightful look at the work, mindset, and methodology of the global branding and design agency headed by Monocle founder Tyler Brûlé.

"Winkreative Design Stories is a journey through the history of Tyler Brûlé’s global design agency. Highlighting a selection of projects from relaunching national carrier Swiss International Air Lines to rebranding Thailand as a magnet for international business, the book spans several continents and an impressive roster of premium clients.

Divided into the core themes of Charm, Craft, Intelligence, Clarity and Storytelling, each chapter of the book showcases a set of projects sharing that characteristic, alongside short, conversational pieces, which offer insight into the thinking and skill behind Winkreative’s huge diversity of work, revealing the culture of the agency itself."

Check out the book here on Gestalten!


Art of the Hobbit: Never-Before-Seen Drawings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Art of the Hobbit: Never-Before-Seen Drawings by J.R.R. Tolkien



"In October of 1936, J.R.R. Tolkien delivered to his publisher the manuscript of what would become one of the most celebrated fantasy books of all time. In September of the following year, The Hobbit made its debut, with 20 or so original drawings, two maps, and a cover painting by Tolkien himself. But it turns out the author created more than 100 illustrations, recently uncovered amidst Tolkien’s papers, digitized by Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and freshly released in Art of the Hobbit — a magnificent volume celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit with 110 beautiful, many never-before-seen illustrations by Tolkien, ranging from pencil sketches to ink line drawings to watercolors. It’s a fine addition to our favorite peeks inside the sketchbooks of great creators and digitization projects in the humanities, and a priceless piece of literary history."






"A rare piece of cross-disciplinary creativity from the mind of one of modern history’s greatest creators, Art of the Hobbit is equal parts literary treasure and treat of art, exploring the notion of the author as designer — a particularly timely concept in the age of self-publishing and disciplinary cross-pollination in the making of books."

Thanks to Brain Pickings for the article!

Salon’s Ultimate Book Guide

Salon’s Ultimate Book Guide



"Salon reached out to a bunch of writers who had new books out this year to find out what their favorite book of the year was. We saw a lot of books by big-name writers: Donna Tartt, Jonathan Lethem and Elizabeth Gilbert, just to name a few. But 2013 was a good year for lesser-known writers, too."

Check out this article for the list of some titles you should add to your to-be-read piles. Now you just have to find the time to read them. Thanks Salon!


Books We Love - The Best American Infographics 2013

Books We Love - The Best American Infographics 2013



"The rise of infographics across virtually all print and electronic media—from a striking breakdown of classic cocktails to a graphic tracking 200 influential moments that changed the world to visually arresting depictions of Twitter traffic—reveals patterns in our lives and our world in fresh and surprising ways. In the era of big data, where information moves faster than ever, infographics provide us with quick, often influential bursts of art and knowledge—on the environment, politics, social issues, health, sports, arts and culture, and more—to digest, to tweet, to share, to go viral.

The Best American Infographics captures the finest examples from the past year, including the ten best interactive infographics, of this mesmerizing new way of seeing and understanding our world."

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