It’s that time of year again and back-to-school reading lists are upon us. If you don’t consider yourself to be a bookish designer, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at the range of design books on the market. The breadth of topics, from biographies of famous designers to how-to guides about navigating the industry, is truly amazing. You just need to know where to look—which is not necessarily obvious.
Not to worry. Just for you we’ve put together a list of 15 top notch publishers of books on design (which often includes not only graphic design but architecture, product design and fashion, if any of those subjects interest you).
Here they are for your autumnal perusal:
1. A Book Apart
For something short and snappy, A Book Apart is your best best. Never tipping past the 100 page mark, they’re goal is simple – shed light on a difficult subject efficiently enough for you to get right back to work. Their focus is on web design, but some of the more conceptual offerings are great for any designer.
- Just Enough Research (Erika Hall)
- Designing for Emotion (Aaron Walter)
- Design is a Job (Mike Monteiro)
For comic fans, they also recently started their ComicArts division for all things comics, animation, and cartoons.
- Things I have learned in my life so far… (Stefan Sagmeister)
- The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes (Alan Aldridge)
- Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing (Margaret S Livingstone)
- Basics Design: Design Thinking (Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris)
- Becoming a Successful Illustrator (Jo Davies, Derek Brazell)
- Font: The Sourcebook (Nadine Monem)
- The Cutting Edge of Wallpaper
- 100 Years of Magazine Covers (Steve Taylor)
- Visual Families: Graphic Storytelling in Design and Illustration (Antonis Antoniou, Robert Klanten, Hendrik Hellige, Sven Ehmann)
- Los Logos 7 (Robert Klanten, George Popov, Anna Sinofzik, Nina C. Müller)
- FAILE: Works on Wood (Faile)
- Made & Sold: Toys, T-Shirts, Prints, Zines and Other Stuff (FL@33)
- I Used to Be a Design Student: 50 Graphic Designers Then and Now (Billy Kiosoglou, Frank Philippin)
- 100 Classic Graphic Design Journals (Jason Godfrey, Steven Heller)
- Jonny Hannah’s Greetings from Darktown: An Illustrator’s Miscellany (Philip Hoare, Peter Chrisp, Sheena Calvert)
- Pure Animation: Steps to Creation with 57 Cutting-Edge Animators (Spencer Drate, Judith Salavetz)
- A Book for Cooks: 101 Classic Cookbooks (Leslie Geddes-Brown)
- 100 Years of Swiss Design (Museum of Design Zürich)
- Helvetica Forever: The Story of a Typeface (Lars Müller, Victor Malsy)
- Unimark International: The Design of Business and the Business of Design (Jan Conradi)
Today they’re partnered with San Francisco darling, Chronicle Books, for distribution in the Americas and recently were acquired by publishing behemoth, McEvoy Group.
- Thinking with Type (Ellen Lupton)
- Make it Bigger (Paula Scher)
- Draw Your Own Alphabets: 30 Fonts to Scribble, Sketch & Make Your Own (Tony Seddon)
- 1,000 Bags, Tags and Labels: Distinctive Designs for Every Industry (Kiki Eldridge)
- Logo Lounge Master Library, Volume 1 (Bill Gardner, Catharine Fishel)
- Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands (Debbie Millman)
They’re also famous for publishing some of the most expensive and extravagant art books in the world. If you’re feeling like a big spender, you can indulge in their $2,500 Annie Leibovitz hardcover (complete with fold-outs, supplement book, and a bookstand) or more notably, Helmut Newton’s SUMO for $15,000 which weighs in at 66 pounds.
- 100 Illustrators (Steven Heller, Julius Wiedmann)
- Menu Design in America 1850 – 1985 (Jim Heimann, Steven Heller, John Mariani)
- D&AD 50
- New Modernist Type (Steven Heller, Gail Anderson)
- Graphic Design Before Graphic Designers: The Printer as Designer and Craftsman 1700-1914 (David Jury)
- Innovative Packaging and Graphics (Stuart Tolley)
13. Unit Editions
- Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer 1918-81 (Adrian Shaughnessy)
- Supernew Supergraphics – Unit 16 (Tony Brook, Adrian Shaughnessy, Sarah Schrauwen)
- Manuals 1: Design & Identity Guidelines (Tony Brook, Adrian Shaughnessy, Sarah Schrauwen)
Their series are especially interesting with City Guides (where 60 local creates show you the city’s best), Palette (explorations in color themes), and I Love Type (which showcase all designs in a specific font).
- You Are Here: A New Approach to Signage and Wayfinding
- Point East: Explore stunning talents in Asia
- I Love Avant Garde
While their subject reach is massive, they do also publish a series of fantastic graphic design textbooks for the more studious among us. Many of their books are in their 4th or 5th edition, with regular updates to keep their academic information up to date.
- Graphic Design School: The Principles and Practice of Graphic Design (David Dabner, Sandra Stewart, Eric Zempol)
- Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team (Alina Wheeler)
- Becoming a Graphic Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design (Steven Heller, Teresa Fernandes)