The Design of Books

This is the name of a book by Adrian Wilson. It is one of the books that constantly inspires my struggling efforts to improve the design and layout of our e-books, and our website. It's a printed book, but it wouldn't have to be; as an e-book it could be linked to other books, printed and digital, to present examples of the points the author is making.

Wilson's book was published in 1967. There are plenty of books published more recently than this one, and there are plenty of on-line places you can go to read and study and learn about design. Desktop computers didn't exist when Wilson wrote the book. Desktop publishing didn't exist then, either. Computer typesetting was a new, mainframe, thing, and desktop type was barely a gleam in a grad student's eye.

Yet these new books only tell you things that update and modify the advice Wilson gives. What is that he had, way back in those ancient days? He had eyes to see, and he saw what books should look like. And so can you.

So how should e-books differ in design from printed books? I have lots of opinions, but so do many other people. The answer isn't a simple recitation of updated rules, at least not yet. I suppose the best thing to say right now is that this has to be the subject of another essay. Send me mail if you want to write it.