Even Apple’s new book uses ‘special’ paper (Updated)

“Designed by Apple in California”

Apple, iPhone, Samsung, Apple Watch, Jony Ive, Steve Jobs
Credit: Apple

Apple’s latest product is a hardback book detailing 20-years of Apple design, "Designed by Apple in California”.

Special paper

The heavily illustrated book looks at Apple products from 1998’s iMac to 2015’s Apple Pencil. It documents the materials and techniques that Apple’s designers used to make them. Photographer, Andrew Zuckerman, took the images. The title is dedicated to Steve Jobs. And it is, “printed on specially milled, custom-dyed paper with gilded matte silver edges, using eight color separations and low-ghost ink,” Apple states. Special. Paper.

For humanity…

“The idea of genuinely trying to make something great for humanity was Steve’s motivation from the beginning, and it remains both our ideal and our goal as Apple looks to the future,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer (interestingly, Apple now seems to like to make job titles lower case).

“This archive is intended to be a gentle gathering of many of the products the team has designed over the years. We hope it brings some understanding to how and why they exist, while serving as a resource for students of all design disciplines.”

Most people know that there’s a big market for Apple-related books, with the best design-focused title, Apple Design, now only available secondhand. If you have the latter title then some of the presentation may seem a little familiar: sparse white pages with well-captured product shots, though not the use of “special” paper.

designed by apple in california 1 Apple

An ‘objective representation’

Writing in the book’s foreword, Ive explains:

“While this is a design book, it is not about the design team, the creative process, or product development. It is an objective representation of our work that, ironically, describes who we are. It describes how we work, our values, our preoccupations, and our goals. We have always hoped to be defined by what we do rather than by what we say.

“We strive, with varying degrees of success, to define objects that appear effortless. Objects that appear so simple, coherent, and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative.”

A collector’s item

The linen-bound, hardcover book was developed over an eight-year period, the company says. Designed by Apple in California will be available beginning Wednesday, November 16, in two editions: Small (10.20” x 12.75”) at $199 (£169 in UK) and large (13” x 16.25”) at $299 (£249 in UK). (Apple kind of missed the chance of calling these editions “Pro” and “Plus”).

You won’t find it in your local bookshops, but you will be able to purchase it online in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the UK and the US. You will also find it in flagship Apple retail stores in London, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, China, Australia and in key locations across the US.

(The latter includes Apple SoHo, Apple Fifth Avenue, Apple Upper East Side, Apple Williamsburg and Apple World Trade Center in New York; Apple The Grove in Los Angeles and Apple Third Street in Santa Monica; Apple North Michigan Avenue and Apple Lincoln Road in Chicago; Apple Northpark in Dallas; Apple Union Square in San Francisco; Apple Palo Alto and Apple Infinite Loop in Cupertino.)

designed by apple in california 2 Apple

What next?

We know Apple runs the secretive ‘Apple University’, an internal project designed to educated employees in some elements of Apple’s success. It seems likely that at least some of the knowledge gathered by that internal project may have informed this title – the course teaches things like “What Makes Apple, Apple,” for example.

Hopefully the company plans more titles, such as a Steve Jobs biography that actually teaches us something about how he really thought and worked, rather than the endless memorializing of his better and worse business decisions we’ve had to endure. I wait in hope.

All the same, Apple’s decision to publish a commemorative book is noteworthy. Critics will say it marks a moment when the company began looking backwards, rather than forwards, while champions will note that this focus on history is essential for the firm to move forward successfully with scale. Meanwhile, I think we just found this year’s best stocking filler for the Apple fan who has everything.

UPDATE: On 16/11/16 I discovered why Apple had to use special paper in the book: It is because many Apple products are white and in order to show them in their best light the company needed to develop custom inks and paper, according to Sir Jony Ive.

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