In a surprise announcement, Monotype has confirmed that it has bought Mark Boulton Design for $1.75 million.
The Cardiff-based web design studio has built a solid reputation for great work over the years, with highlights including the redesign of Drupal 7 and drupal.org, and an awful lot of client work, such as editorial designs for the likes of ESPN and De Standaard, and ecommerce websites for companies such as Sugru and Hiut Denim. Most recently the company caught our attention by working with CERN to recreate the early web experience.
The company also created Gridset, a tool for helping web designers to create responsive grids for the web. It's currently being evaluated by Monotype for use with its own web design tool, Typecast.
Sadly Five Simple Steps, the small publishing outfit that released smart and wonderfully-designed web books, is being closed down post-acquisition. "We've realised that the time has come to do less and focus on doing one thing well," says a statement from Mark and Emma Boulton on the Five Simple Steps site. "This means, sadly, that Five Simple Steps must close."
However it's not all bad news; all the Five Simple Steps authors get their books back to distribute as they wish, and to give something back to the web design community the studio is sharing its own ebook creation process for free.
Over at creating-ebooks.com you can download Five Simple Steps' guide to creating an ebook in ePub and mobi format, complete with a starter template and style guide.
So what now for Mark Boulton Design? It's closed, but the seven-strong team isn't going anywhere. "The team will be working on Monotype projects from the same premises," says Emma Boulton. "We'll still be writing, still blogging, and still speaking at web conferences."
And Mark Boulton himself (whom we interviewed last year; see video below) is understandably excited about this new development. "We're going to be working with some of smartest people I've met," he says in a blog post, "on a broad range of tools and services that cross the boundaries of two fields of design I hold dear: web design and typography. What could be better than that?"
"We're sad this means the end of Five Simple Steps and Mark Boulton Design's innovative client work," says net magazine editor, Oliver Lindberg, "but it's a a big win for Monotype. Mark's team will do amazing work there, without a doubt. And good news we will still see Mark speak at conferences. We'd miss him!"