A New Edition of Walden, Beautifully Designed

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden is my touchstone. It’s the book that contains the most truth about how to live in this world. I re-read Walden regularly, and I use Thoreau’s lessons to help me maintain a level of simplicity in this turbulent world.

There are many editions of Walden available, from the Library of America’s excellent editions in paperback (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) and in hardcover, with two other works by Thoreau (Amazon.com, Amazon UK), to scholar Jeffrey Cramer’s annotated Walden (Amazon.com, Amazon UK). And you can download a free copy of very attractively designed ebook edition of Walden – and of Thoreau’s other major works – from Ron Koster’s website, or from Apple’s iBooks Store.

Designer Matt Steel wants to make a new Walden. Initially, Steel had a somewhat misguided idea of “adapting” the text, translating Thoreau’s less easily understood words and phrases to “help” modern readers understand the text. But after a number of people explained why this was unnecessary, Steel decided that this was the wrong way to proceed.

This campaign has changed from its original scope. Based on community feedback and our own reflections on how to help Walden remain contemporary, we have decided to forego the adaptation, and instead publish a new hardcover edition of Walden with the original text and annotations tailored for today’s reader.

(Personally, I wouldn’t have ordered the book if it was an adaptation. It’s worth reading Steel’s post on Medium, where he discusses why he changed his mind. Kudos to him for listening to what others had to say. )

The New Walden will be a beautifully designed book, with great attention paid to the typography and layout. In addition, it will contain notes in the margins: “Archaic words and idioms are defined throughout, and historical or cultural references are made clear.”


The book will feature illustrations and some quotes will be called out.


This isn’t a cheap book, and, as such, Steel is funding this project on Kickstarter. Currently, the minimum cost of a copy of this book is $48 (plus shipping). If you’re a fan of Thoreau, you’ll probably want an edition like this; it’s always nicer to read great books in attractive editions. If you don’t know Walden yet, then I strongly suggest you go out and read it now, and you, too, may decide that you want an attractive copy of the book for your library.