Whether you’re just starting out in design, or you’re a seasoned pro, the web has some interesting reading for you today.
There's a well-known and oft-cited adage that says you don't get something for nothing, and certainly in the past this has been true, no more so than when it comes to an expert passing on their knowledge for your benefit.
There has always been a healthy market for commercial books written by experts, and this isn't likely to change any time soon: sometimes there's just no substitute for splashing your cash and getting high quality content in return. That said, there's a growing movement towards free and freemium content on the web, and the quality of the content is often on a par with the books you'd part cash for.
What's on offer
Obviously nobody can afford to print and distribute free books (with the exception of the excellent World Book Night movement), but in this age of tablets, smartphones and laptops the electronic book offers a fantastic, and very cheap, way to spread this content.
So, with all that in mind, what content can you get for free in the field of graphic and web design? A quick search on your favourite search engine will reveal hundreds of offerings, making it difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff.
We've done some extensive research and found 10 brilliant books every designer should download and read, so check out our list of top ebooks for designers below, and let us know in the comments if you've come across a good book we've missed!
- Also read: Free books for web designers
This excellent 27-page ebook details the 10 key classifications for typography, providing the basic understanding you'll need to gain a grasp of the fundamentals of type selection. The book covers a brief history for each of the classifications, as well as the core characteristics of the style.
Over the course of 149 pages the different tools and options within each package are broken down, illustrating how to produce files for print that will provide accurate colour reproduction, pixel-perfect transparency matting and sharp lines.
More of a manifesto than a traditional book, 'How to be Creative' offers a useful set of headline approaches to maximising your creativity, with the author Hugh MacLeod offering some insight into his own personal experience of why each is a useful and/or important technique or lesson to spur you on.
This ebook tells a parable, using a semi-fictional scenario to illustrate the importance of pricing your work at the right level. The book itself will take an hour or two to read, and really focuses only one core message, but it's a valuable lesson for designers starting out in business for themselves.
The book focuses mainly on design and best practices for non-profit organizations, but the content is a great resource in general and the teachings can be applied pretty much anywhere.
06. Typo Tips
This handy free ebook from Font Shop provides a series of tips and techniques to improve your typography, ranging from basic best-practice such as avoiding the use of ALL CAPS, to which type of dash should be used in which scenario. A worthwhile download for anyone interested in type and typography.
Another manifesto from the ChangeThis.com website, this offering from author Stephen Hay - one of the speakers at our Generate conference - provides a methodology for converting client input (which may often be extremely vague!) into a meaningful design approach. As with Hugh MacLeod's book, this free PDF offers a personal insight into the process, demonstrating its value.
Matthew Butterick is a designer who's also a lawyer (or perhaps a lawyer who's also a designer), and his free typography volume (if you find it useful he offers a few suggestions on ways to pay him) is a suitably thorough collection of all the things you always wanted to know about typography but were afraid to ask. The 'Typography in ten minutes' opening chapter is as good a typographical primer as you'll find anywhere, and from there it goes on to cover pretty much everything with the right mix of detail and clear language.
Words: Sam Hampton-Smith
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Have you found a free ebook that's worth sharing with designers? Let us know in the comments below.