Our first book is HTML5 For Web Designers, by the indomitable Jeremy Keith. If you’re already getting your feet wet with HTML5, or just trying to figure out what the hell it’s all about, you’ll want this one. I’ve read it three times and love how approachable it is. You can read more from Jeffrey about how we chose our first title, or from Mandy on how A Book Apart works as a publisher.
Designing the Series
While most of the design work I do is for the web, I love getting back to my roots in print. Since I’d already created a simple visual system for A List Apart, I decided to pick up on some of the same elements here, most notably the numbering in the large black circle, the slight overlapping elements, and the color palette change with each edition (to be seen in subsequent books). I wanted these to look like a family on your bookshelf.
I crafted a very simple page design to let the text take the spotlight. It’s a thin book, both in width and thickness, and I spent a long time fiddling with column widths and grids before settling on a comfortable line length. Our books are brief enough that we can’t predictably print on the spines; so I decided to wrap the title from the spine around to the back cover, giving the spine and back cover some identification and texture.
Finding the Right Typefaces
I’m always up for font shopping, so I leapt at the chance to pick up a new text face. We’ll be publishing a variety of code, acronyms, and captions, so I wanted something fairly current, with a healthy set of OpenType features and numbering options. Yoga and its counterpart Yoga Sans by Xavier Dupré fit the bill perfectly. The serif is a similar style to the Garamond we’ve used in ALA and AEA materials, but with a bit of angularity and a more contemporary feel. Yoga Sans makes a great companion for captions and quotes.
To give some punch to the cover and interior headlines, I immediately thought of Titling Gothic by David Berlow, a 49(!) member super family ranging from very thin and narrow to very bold and wide. I selected Regular Skyline which falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Because page width isn’t very wide, this weight has the added benefit of being heavily condensed, allowing for larger type even with longer titles.
For code excerpts I ran a number of print tests. Some monospace fonts look great on screen but fail on the printed page. I eventually decided on Consolas by Lucas de Groot, one of the fonts that Microsoft commissioned for Vista. Not only does Consolas have really pleasing and distinct letterforms, it also comes with a good bold weight— useful for showing emphasis in the code examples.
This is just the beginning for A Book Apart. We have more books already in the works. For now, do yourself a favor and preorder HTML5 For Web Designers.