Business

How A Book Apart Became an Iconic Publisher in the Design Industry

An interview with CEO Katel LeDu.

All photos courtesy Katel LeDu.

A Book Apart publishes ‘brief books for people who make websites’.

A Book Apart is a publisher of design-related books, co-founded by designer and entrepreneur Jeffrey Zeldman (the creator of A List Apart). A Book Apart is recognized for their focus on quality, clarity, and brevity. Even if you haven’t read a book from the A Book Apart collection before, you’d probably recognize the design: simple fonts, solid-colored covers, clean designs.

The core idea of A Book Apart is to learn from the experts – and to make it short. The book authors are design industry leaders from around the world. With 100-150 page ‘standard’ size books and even shorter ‘briefs’, A Book Apart has a library that serves as a guide to all things web design. Interested in responsive web design? Read a quick book by the guy who coined the term.
Image: Katel LeDu, CEO of A Book Apart.

Katel LeDu, the CEO of A Book Apart, says that the shared passion for design is what makes A Book Apart so successful.

“A Book Apart started as a small project, sprung from the foundation that sharing the insights and knowledge of passionate folks working in the field, presented through an engaging narrative, would make learning about working on the web accessible to everyone,” she says. “We’re editors and publishers who are committed to challenging our authors and readers to do their best work.”

Prior to A Book Apart, Katel worked at National Geographic. Although A Book Apart is a small shop in comparison to National Geographic, Katel says there are similarities to both work environments. “The thing I’ve found to be very similar, is that when collaboration is open and valued, it’s much easier—and enjoyable!—to create a successful product. I’m proud to have been able to build a strong process, dependable workflows, and a passionate network of creators interested in connecting with a larger community.” In the move from National Geographic to A Book Apart, Katel says she was excited to take the things she’d learned within the big NatGeo teams and apply it to the more focused work vision of A Book Apart.

The design industry may be becoming more digital-focused, but that doesn’t mean print books are out of fashion.

According to Katel, approximately 30% of A Book Apart’s sales consistently come from paperback book sales.

“Though more and more design and tech resources have become available online or in digital-format-only, we’re really proud of the fact that we continue to make a physical product that people love,” says Katel. “While we want to be competitive, we also want to make sure that no matter the format, we’re delivering quality content that’s approachable regardless of the reader’s skill level. We’ll continue exploring ways to do that effectively, and I think more importantly, we’ll seek out new and inspired voices to share their knowledge.”

Behind the scenes of A Book Apart’s print production.

Not sure where to start reading?

We asked Katel to pick out a few of her favorites from the A Book Apart catalogue. Here’s what she chose:

Envato has recently launched a partnership with A Book Apart. Check out the books available from A Book Apart on the Envato Tuts+ ebook library – all included with a subscription to Envato Elements.

11 Top eBooks to Boost Your Web Design Career

 


Brittany Jezouit

About the Author Brittany Jezouit

Brittany is the editor of the Envato blog. You can follow her on Twitter @brittanyjezouit.