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.
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.