Apple Published an Expensive Book with Pictures of Its Products, and Apologists Defend the Ridiculous Price

Apple went and did it. In one of their most arrogant moves in a long time, they have published Jony Ive’s latest vanity project, a book called Designed by Apple in California. At $300 (or $200 for the mini version), this is in insultingly expensive book. It’s also a bit odd for a company to produce a book containing photos of its products with nothing more; no context, no explanations of, say, why certain design choices were made.

Designed by apple

Parallels have been made with the book Iconic, which contains photos of Apple products, but also some context and explanation. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This book retails for $75, so comparisons are inappropriate.

John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball, tries to justify the price, comparing it to a “collector’s edition version of The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”” which cost $1,250, or “The James Bond Archives,” which he paid $200 for, and which is now discounted at $70 on the publisher’s website. The Kubrick was a limited edition, and the James Bond book, well, it’s now discounted…

This reminds me of the apologists for the ridiculous pricing of the Apple Watch Edition, comparing it to the prices of real luxury watches (real, as in they’ll work for more than a few years, and don’t have batteries that die and software that will eventually be useless).

These people clearly don’t know much about the premium book market. If the Apple book were a limited edition, then the price would be reasonable, and if it were a signed limited edition, with a small limitation, then it would cost much more (probably $1,000 or so for a signed edition of, say, 1,000 copies, if it were signed by Jony Ive). But it’s not a limited edition, and the paper and ink are not that big a deal. I have a small collection of limited edition books, including some with very small limitations (fewer than 100 signed, numbered copies) and many of them are cheaper than Apple’s book. You’re paying for a number of things when you buy a premium book. If it’s an art book, you’re paying for the production; Apple’s book would probably sell for $75 to $100 based on the way it’s produced. If it’s a limited edition, and especially if there’s an author’s signature, then you’re paying for rarity, and the autograph on the title page.

Sure, there are art books that cost more; Taschen’s beautiful Bob Dylan: A Year and a Day lists for $700. It’s an oversized book (31.2 x 44 cm), and is limited to 1,765 copies. Its price is in line with the market for that type of book. But it’s much bigger than Apple’s book, and is a limited edition.

It’s a shame that Apple didn’t make this a project for charity, rather than just dumping an overpriced book for fanbois. But, hey, it’s a product they have announced that they can actually ship this quarter, and no adapters are needed.

44 thoughts on “Apple Published an Expensive Book with Pictures of Its Products, and Apologists Defend the Ridiculous Price

  1. Not for nothin’, but meanwhile: Microsoft has developed an interesting (to say the least) new desktop computer, Google’s Android Auto works in virtually any car, both Amazon and Google’s home voice tech is making Siri look weak, and Napster (Napster!) is making streaming money sans free tier.

  2. Not for nothin’, but meanwhile: Microsoft has developed an interesting (to say the least) new desktop computer, Google’s Android Auto works in virtually any car, both Amazon and Google’s home voice tech is making Siri look weak, and Napster (Napster!) is making streaming money sans free tier.

  3. I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Art to see an exhibition of the works by Herb Ritts, and bought his signed photo book (35.5 x 28.5 cm) titled WORK, for $75. It was in 1996.

  4. I went to the Boston Museum of Fine Art to see an exhibition of the works by Herb Ritts, and bought his signed photo book (35.5 x 28.5 cm) titled WORK, for $75. It was in 1996.

  5. Don’t buy it! Apple is ‘Trumped! A company on the brink of ruin’ . …..But….no adapters, just for adopters: for this price it will be a limited edition. Jony’s creative era is the past and Apple will not print on demand in 2025. Buy the book; sell it in 2036 when your todays USD’s and 401(k)are worthless (actually the already are). Let Jony sign it when you meet him (by accident); add value 😉 Add it to your private pension fund, your own golden elevator.

  6. Don’t buy it! Apple is ‘Trumped! A company on the brink of ruin’ . …..But….no adapters, just for adopters: for this price it will be a limited edition. Jony’s creative era is the past and Apple will not print on demand in 2025. Buy the book; sell it in 2036 when your todays USD’s and 401(k)are worthless (actually the already are). Let Jony sign it when you meet him (by accident); add value 😉 Add it to your private pension fund, your own golden elevator.

  7. Maybe (I’m sure) ‘Apple’ knows more about the future and finance and the corrupt Wallstreet. See the book as an opportunity to think of yout financial future. It’s a hint or sign. They don’t tell you vote X or Y. To intelligent for that. You know Apple is not a bitter company.

  8. Maybe (I’m sure) ‘Apple’ knows more about the future and finance and the corrupt Wallstreet. See the book as an opportunity to think of yout financial future. It’s a hint or sign. They don’t tell you vote X or Y. To intelligent for that. You know Apple is not a bitter company.

  9. Why is this even an issue? They put out a nice book and charged a high price for it. If there’s not demand, it will drop in price. If there is demand, then they’ll keep selling. Neither case will have one whit of an effect on Apple’s bottom line.

    Who cares? Since when is “Company X is selling book at price Y” a news story? Because it’s Apple?

  10. Why is this even an issue? They put out a nice book and charged a high price for it. If there’s not demand, it will drop in price. If there is demand, then they’ll keep selling. Neither case will have one whit of an effect on Apple’s bottom line.

    Who cares? Since when is “Company X is selling book at price Y” a news story? Because it’s Apple?

  11. “… insultingly expensive”?

    Wow! How much do Bob Dylan (or Rolling Stones) concert tickets cost these days? I haven’t actually held the book in my hands, so I’m unqualified to comment on its actual value at this point. But I do own a few treasured and unusual books (Sagalassos City of Water by Marc Waelkens is one) whose original price was notably above US$300.

    Ungratefuls should be kissing the ground Sir Jony glides over in his Bentley. Without Steve Jobs taking full advantage of Jony Ive’s talents, Apple would be in the dustbin along with the Osborne 1. And probably few of us would have the rewarding careers we currently enjoy.

  12. “… insultingly expensive”?

    Wow! How much do Bob Dylan (or Rolling Stones) concert tickets cost these days? I haven’t actually held the book in my hands, so I’m unqualified to comment on its actual value at this point. But I do own a few treasured and unusual books (Sagalassos City of Water by Marc Waelkens is one) whose original price was notably above US$300.

    Ungratefuls should be kissing the ground Sir Jony glides over in his Bentley. Without Steve Jobs taking full advantage of Jony Ive’s talents, Apple would be in the dustbin along with the Osborne 1. And probably few of us would have the rewarding careers we currently enjoy.

  13. Isn’t EVERYTHING apple sell highly priced?

    That’s where they want to be, isn’t it?

    Don’t apple subscribe to the concept that consumers tend to view the most expensive product the best product in any given group, and, whatever they market will be priced accordingly?

    They’re just doing what they always have, and always will, do.

    Don’t hold your breath for a bargain price apple-thing soon.

    One could say ‘insultingly expensive’ about ANYTHING currently ‘apple’.

  14. Isn’t EVERYTHING apple sell highly priced?

    That’s where they want to be, isn’t it?

    Don’t apple subscribe to the concept that consumers tend to view the most expensive product the best product in any given group, and, whatever they market will be priced accordingly?

    They’re just doing what they always have, and always will, do.

    Don’t hold your breath for a bargain price apple-thing soon.

    One could say ‘insultingly expensive’ about ANYTHING currently ‘apple’.

  15. Total900
    I won’t flood this comment page with some of the endless press plaudits for apple, as you seem to infer they are scant, your remarks hint at being tired of reading about apple getting bashed. Or that apple only do good. I’m not sure.

  16. Total900
    I won’t flood this comment page with some of the endless press plaudits for apple, as you seem to infer they are scant, your remarks hint at being tired of reading about apple getting bashed. Or that apple only do good. I’m not sure.

    • Yes, you’re right to point that out (apple are excited by the courageously obvious).
      And in turn the book may color opinions of apple.

    • Yes, you’re right to point that out (apple are excited by the courageously obvious).
      And in turn the book may color opinions of apple.

  17. This book is made for people who appreciate product design and design in general. Take it for what it is: design book. Regardless of your preference – apple, android, Microsoft this is book that is inspiring in so many ways to designers (I happen to be one). Not long ago I got SONY book with most of their iconic designs – do I have Sony products today? – no, but I find so many of their products iconic the same way I see Apple. @wrenchbone Cheers

      • quality books are expensive. There is no point debating the price of something that is an object of desire for some people. If you can sell out $200-300 books then credit to you bc you have brand recognition and power to sell it at that price. If my Sony book was $300 I wouldn’t have gotten it….but Apple book is a different story (for me) Go to Hermes and complain about 1k belt that has the same function as $50 belt you can get at Walmart.

  18. This book is made for people who appreciate product design and design in general. Take it for what it is: design book. Regardless of your preference – apple, android, Microsoft this is book that is inspiring in so many ways to designers (I happen to be one). Not long ago I got SONY book with most of their iconic designs – do I have Sony products today? – no, but I find so many of their products iconic the same way I see Apple. @wrenchbone Cheers

      • quality books are expensive. There is no point debating the price of something that is an object of desire for some people. If you can sell out $200-300 books then credit to you bc you have brand recognition and power to sell it at that price. If my Sony book was $300 I wouldn’t have gotten it….but Apple book is a different story (for me) Go to Hermes and complain about 1k belt that has the same function as $50 belt you can get at Walmart.

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