A Three-Book Basic Design Library

May 2002
by Roger C. Parker

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As I contemplate my huge design library, I often ask myself which books I would keep no matter what. It’s an interesting exercise because true excellence is surprisingly rare. Often design books are actually promotional “portfolios” camouflaged as coffee table books; they do a good job of showcasing a designer’s work but have few lessons to teach.

There are a few exceptions, though. Let’s take a look at three outstanding examples.

Richard Hendel’s On Book Design (Yale University Press) should be required reading for book designers, as well as for a broader range of graphic designers and for writers interested in self-publishing.

In contrast to the pedantic nature of many design books, On Book Design takes the form of an extended conversation with the author. You get the feeling you’re sitting down with a happy, friendly design teacher who is anecdotally recounting his career and the lessons he’s learned over the years.


More Than One Voice <subhead>


On Book Design

is an accumulation of design insights from many sources. After discussing and showing examples of his own designs–and an extended discussion of the design of On Book Design itself, along with discarded alternatives–Hendel presents information from interviews with several other book designers. These designers give their take on the challenges of book design and their individual a…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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