Apple is releasing a product this week that isn’t a phone or a watch or a computer. It’s a 450-page book documenting the past 20 years of Apple design, or, in other words, a book of photos of Apple devices. At $300, it costs more than some of those devices.
The book, called “Designed by Apple in California,” comes in a large (13-by–16.25 inches) and a cheaper, smaller (10.20-by–12.75 inches) size. The smaller version is a mere $200. Both versions will be available to buy online or in select Apple Stores on Wednesday.
The book documents the creation of the 1998 iMac through the 2015 Apple Pencil and took eight years to develop, Apple said. It is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs.
“While this is a design book, it is not about the design team, the creative process, or product development,” Apple design chief Jony Ive writes in the book’s foreword. “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.”
Yes, Apple products are beautiful. They are simple. They are easy to use. Some could even be (and have been) considered works of art. But the announcement of this book reads more like a parody of Apple, with even the paper described in reverential terms (“specially milled, custom-dyed paper with gilded matte silver edges, using eight color separations and low-ghost ink”). If a potential love interest spots this book on your coffee table, they will know immediately that you take yourself too seriously.
I am clearly not the target market for a book like this, but I could understand its existence if it were more than just…photos of Apple devices. That said, buying this book could be justified, if you really wanted to: Photographer Andrew Zuckerman’s images are lovely. The book does include the materials and techniques used for each product. Coffee table books from lesser-known designers than Apple often retail for just as much.
At least now you know what to buy the Apple fan in your life who already owns every single product the company makes.