How do you like it?


Eggs. Everyone likes them different and each of us eats them in a certain way, just like blogs. Okay, so you don’t fry blogs, but humour me with the metaphor for a moment.

The Designer’s Review of Books has been running for a few months now and I am very grateful for all the readers and subscribers (not subscribed? Here you go). One problem with reviews is that they don’t open up much conversation and it would be great to know a bit more about who you are, how you read the content and how it could be better. I can comb the logs forever, but they only tell me so much – I prefer to hear from real people.

If you feel in the mood to give some feedback or just want to say hi, here are some questions – tell me how you like your blog cooked:

  1. Do you read the entire thing via a feed reader or do you visit the web site? (And what feed reader do you use?)
  2. If the feed items were shorter excerpts, would you bother to click through to the site or would that be irritating?
  3. How are the length of the reviews? Too long, too short, just right?
  4. What books and disciplines would you like to see more reviews of?
  5. Would you like to see more frequent reviews or is the pace good?
  6. If I were to put all Amazon’s links in the main article like this (USA|CA|UK|DE) would that be useful or irritating?

Anything else (style of reviews, design, ads, etc.)? Let me know in the comments.

(Egg photo credit: Veronika23)

About the author

Andy Polaine

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  • Good morning! Here are some of my answers to your questions:

    1. Do you read the entire thing via a feed reader or do you visit the web site? (And what feed reader do you use?)
    2. If the feed items were shorter excerpts, would you bother to click through to the site or would that be irritating?

    I prefer to read the full article for feeds in my reader (Vienna). In order for me to click through on an excerpt, it would have to be a well-written teaser so that I would want to read more — not necessarily the first paragraph of the review.

    1. How are the length of the reviews? Too long, too short, just right?
    2. What books and disciplines would you like to see more reviews of?

    For me, the length of the review isn’t that important — but I love the “here’s a book you should check out and why” factor. I also enjoy reads from other design disciplines — my husband bought me Shapes for Sounds for my birthday since we both thought it looked interesting after reading your review.

    1. Would you like to see more frequent reviews or is the pace good?

    Since I have the articles set through a feed reader, I can see when reviews are posted and catch up on my own. I prefer this than having to always visit a site that may or may not be updated. I think the pace is fine – I haven’t forgotten why I subscribed to the feed in the first place!

    1. If I were to put all Amazon’s links in the main article like this (USA|CA|UK|DE) would that be useful or irritating?

    I’ve never really been a fan of linking to Amazon for the contextual links — but then again, not every book will have its own webpage to link to. I think adding Amazon links to the bottom of the review would be great so people don’t have to scroll back up, find first mention, and hope it links to where they want it to go. If you want to keep those Amazon contextual links, I would do it like this: Book Title (Amazon: US | CA | UK | DE). Of course, any more than 3 or 4 might start being too many for this placement.

    Just my two cents, of course! 🙂 -Anna

    1. I read the full article from within Google Reader

      1. I would be annoyed with being forced to click through to read the full article but would do it anyway if the introduction/excerpt was enticing enough. I would be more likely to read the full article if it was all available via the RSS feed, however.

      2. The length of the article are good but I wouldn’t complain if they were a little more detailed 😉

      3. Educational. I’d also like to see some books that tie in with the web reviewed please.

      4. As I think that the reviews are good I wouldn’t complain if they were more frequent 😛

      5. I don’t mind where the links to Amazon are so long as they don’t distract me when reading the article!

    Thanks for the reviews!

    1. Google Reader
      1. Sometimes I would click through.
      2. The length is just right.
      3. Pace is Good
  • Anna – thanks for that. That was my plan for the links too.

    The main reason for the Amazon links is that it is a way of supporting the site and the (rather scary) amount of time that goes into reading and writing the reviews. I don’t want to try and force or trick people in any way and I’ve always been open about the affiliate links in the About section. But if people are going to buy it from Amazon in any case and they’re happy to tip their reviewer, that’s always welcome.

    Peter – When you say “books that tie in with the web”, are you meaning more web design books or something else? (I’ve been conscious that quite a few reviews have been about interaction design as it’s my own discipline – but maybe I’ve just been paranoid).

    Snowflake (good name) – Thanks. Lots of people seem to use Google Reader (it’s the number one reader in the logs). I can’t get into it. NetNewsWire does it for me still (I moved over from Vienna when NNW became free).

    I won’t do the click through excerpts on the feed. I find it annoying too, but wondered if it was just me. For the advertisers (like An Event Apart‘s Seattle conference up in the main spot there), it’s nice when people actually see the site and the ad. I always try and ensure ads are ones that readers would actually be interested in rather than just random.

    Thanks so far for the feedback. More is, of course, welcome!

    1. I generally read all of your articles through Google Reader. Upon visiting your site, I am really pleased by how beautiful it is.

    2. I’d visit.

    3. Just right. I like brief articles.

    4. I’m mostly interested in web design and typography. That said, I really love that you reviewed Tauba Auerbach’s new book.

    5. The pace is good.

    6. Useful.

    Thanks for what you do! I look forward to more reviews.

    Stephen Wyatt Bush’s last blog post..Album Artwork Facebook Meme

  • I like having the full article available in the RSS Feed – which I read with Safari. It’s faster.

    Amazon links are fine – I like the idea of sticking them either at the end or the beginning.

    I can’t offer any suggestions about what books to review. Any book that I might suggest, I’ve already read. I like a source where I can find things I haven;t heard of before. Keep surprising me!


  • I read the site through google reader, apart from the day I discovered it, this is my second visit!

    1. I use netvibes to aggregate my feeds, however, I prefer to read the reviews on your site once I have looked through the summaries.

      1. I am usually persuaded to click through to the website based on the title or topic of the book so as long as the feed item contains that information, it is enough for me.

      2. This is the first book review blog that I have subscribed to, let alone read regularly. I find the reviews informative, visual and written in a language that is helpful for someone who is trying to learn more about design.

      3. Information Architecture and Information Design, data visualizations, more of the same I guess.

      4. The paced is good but as mentioned in an earlier comment, I would not be upset if the reviews were more frequent.

      5. That would be helpful, I like to see the amazon reviews as well and the link to the relevant national sites is fine.

    Mark’s last blog post..Sharing & Collaborating on Google Docs

    1. Google Reader
    2. I wouldn’t click through and would probably stop following, I find teasers really irritating. (I would be OK with advertising in the feed)
    3. Length is good, just enough to get me interested in the book and sometimes enough to look into it some more
    4. Any more and it might become overwhelming, and so I might not read it all
    5. Amazon links for different countries would be useful (I’m British but live in the US, sometimes I check both to see the price difference and buy it in the cheaper country!)

    I like it just the way it is!!

  • Perhaps I should also point out that this is only the second time I have visited the site, the first was to get the RSS feed!

    1. I haven’t been reading the entire thing through my feed reader (which is Google Reader). I usually scan it a bit, and then if it’s a book I might be into–or you thought was good–I open the actual website and read the whole thing.

      1. Hmm… I would understand you reduced it to exerpts for site traffic/advertising.

      2. perfect

      3. I like what you’re doing–you’ve brought some new things to my eyes like Kapitza’s Geometric and the data visualization book.

      4. Seems to be at a decent pace, I can’t imagine how fast you already have to read.

      5. I don’t think it’d be irritating.

  • I read the site directly — these are reviews about design books, so I like to see the reviews within the site’s design.

    Ideally, I’d love to see a review a day, but I realize that a) that’s a lot of work and b) there may not be that many truly worthy design books to write about.

    jabbett’s last blog post..The Typographic Desk Reference: Worth it?

  • Hi 🙂 I discovered your website through the other feeds that I subscribe to. If I remember correctly, I Love Typography mentioned your site and the beautiful masthead, and maybe The Book Design Review, I think. I’m not too sure 🙂

    Anyway, I really appreciate your taking the time to ask for feedback, so here’s mine — 1// I read your entries via FeedDemon. I’m not that much of a fan of Google Reader either. With FD, I can read online or offline, whenever I want, plus I love the convenience of it being right here on my desktop. Nevertheless, I visit the website from time to time, when I’m not too busy and when I miss looking at the layout. 🙂

    2// I normally get irritated with feeds that want me to click through the site — the main reason why I have websites on an RSS reader in the first place was so I could read everything without the aid of having to open a web browser. However, I do make exceptions, if the excerpt is really compelling. I would be more likely persuaded if it’s a short summary about what the post is about, more so than if it’s just the first paragraph or first sentence of the post. A photo would help, too 🙂 The beauty of FeedDemon is that it is also a browser in itself, so I can just open the site in a new tab and still read my other feeds. But I would really, really prefer that the whole entry is available.

    I would surmise that the reason that other sites want readers to click through is for visitor count/traffic, and the ads. But there are other ways to compel us to go to the website, like posts that request for interaction, like this one, or promos/giveaways.

    3// The length is great, actually. It’s long enough to be interesting and and short enough without scrimping on the details. Anyway, I’ve always believe that it’s not about the length, but the content — short or long, if it’s boring, I won’t read it.

    4// I’ve always been interested in books about graphic design, typography and color theory. I don’t have a degree in design but it’s one of my passions and it’s my line of work now. So I really love being able to read about them. Books being expensive as they are, I appreciate the fact that I am able to see what’s inside it through your reviews. Sometimes it’s what pushes me to buy the book or not buy it at all. I like to know if I am going to be able to use the book and if it’s going to be helpful to me.

    Some disciplines that I would like to get featured are books on illustrations, art, advertising and branding, architecture, and interior design. Maybe craft books, too and those talking about creativity and inspiration? Also, what about books that deal with pure text only, but adhere to a certain aesthetic, i.e. poetry collections? I don’t know, maybe I’m out on a limb here, but it is interesting to think about 🙂

    5// The pace is good so far. With my RSS reader I can always come back to it when I don’t have the time to read the entry as soon as it is posted, but I like the fact that there’s not too much for me to catch up on, because that would just be overwhelming. Plus, I know how time-consuming it is to pore over a book and write a review about it.

    6// It’s fine with me, but maybe it’ll look much more pleasing if placed at the end of the article. I have the Store page bookmarked anyhow, and I come back to it from time to time to look at books that I hope to buy someday!

    I hope this helps 🙂

    1. Via feed Reader, Google Reader with the Helvetireader theme, much nicer =)

    2. A lot of times when i am scanning the web for blogs to watch, i am more likely to summarily dismiss it if the RSS feed displays snippets of the post, however there are some exceptions (notably design observer, which has the annoying snippet feeds.) The best sites seem to have ‘jumps’ in the post (snippet on main page with a link through to full article) on the site proper, but have an feed comprised of full articles; which is the best route IMHO. Strobist for example does this.

    3. Perfect =) A wonderful digression from the status quo of design blogs full of pretty pictures and not a lot of content.

    4. Personally i would say a multidisciplinary approach would be best, as even if your work focuses you in on one specific area of design, it is always useful to inform yourself with other ideas, concepts, and ways of approaching problems from other fields, both from within design and outside. Architecture, ID, Graphic design (be it the more analytical side such as information / interaction design, or to the other end of the spectrum with more ‘arty’ books, illustration, photography etc); Design is a broad field, tis all good.

    5. Obviously given a choice between more or less of a given source of awesomeness (or, as i prefer, awsomnity), more is better; however i would certainly value less frequent but higher quality posts than more frequent and lesser quality ones.

    6. I would certainly find this to be useful; the user (reader) reviews on amazon tend to be an excellent source for evaluating a book. Certainly amazon is more useful than just a place to buy the book, so i personally wouldn’t see it as having the purchase forced upon me or anything.

  • Thankfully i see you moderate comments before they appear on the main page. Stupidly i forgot to close the helvetireader link tag (i know, right!). Hopefully you can edit the html so as to not have the bulk of the comment as a lovely maroon link? Thanks. =)

    1. I read the articles via OSX Mail (rss reader). I used to read the entire article via Mail and sometimes I go to the site for the comments.

    2. It would have no problem to click to go to the site if the review is really interesting.

    3. It’s OK.

    4. The frequency is OK right now.

    5. It would be nice, it’s a good place for buying.

  • Thanks everyone – it’s good to know it’s cooked about right (no runny clear stuff, but the yoke still fine). Google clearly owns the world.

    Ryan and Jabbett – The pace varies on the books and the time I have available. There are over 50 books in the review queue at the moment. Some take a few days or weeks t read, some can be got through in one sitting.

    Andrew – Fixed the link.

    There should be plenty for everyone and some surprises. We’ll have a couple more architecture and photography ones soon as well as a few more on everything from the web to graffiti. I will also be reviewing some books on play and perhaps writing too – they are not visual but get the creative juices flowing. I also have a couple of good “Conversations with…” books to review – one with Mies van der Rohe, the other with Paul Rand.

    One change I am going to make is to deactivate the ShareThis plugin – it slows down the page loading enormously. Has anyone used it at all?

    1. Even though I’m young, I think I’m still old school as I hate feeds. I come to the website via my delicious bookmark.

      1. NA as I don’t do feeds

      2. Most of the time, they are just right. I skim if I’m not terribly interested in the book from the start, although I probably should be. I really enjoy seeing a few pictures of the inside pages. I guess I’m a typical visual person.

      3. I would love to see some reviews of older design books, not always the most recently published. I recognize that there are a lot of design books and this may not be what you are wanting as the editor, but I always feel overwhelmed by what books to pick up and don’t necessarily always want to pick up just the newest.

      4. Pace is good.

      5. Amazon links don’t bother me.

    1. feed reader -> google reader

      1. slightly to full blown irritating

      2. i’m pretty into them. but i have a short attention span so i feel that i can get in and out of them fairly quickly and then move on to the next thing in my ever expanding list of feeds.

      3. i have no opinion on this matter!

      4. the pace is good. it feels appropriate. i don’t know how to define that but it does.

      5. if i wasn’t from the u.s. i’m sure that would be useful but as with all things i just wish everyone would conform to our standards…damnit.

    1. Google Reader
    2. I would rather read 100% of the content in the RSS feed.
    3. Maybe a little long — but it’s been good reading.
    4. I would love for you to point out books that you think are designed particularly well, even if they’re not specifically about design.
    5. Pace is good.
    6. The links are ok with me.
  • Kyle – Don’t worry, I won’t do the click through from the feed thing.

    Katie – I do try to cover the production values too, but the content is intended to be appealing to designers/creative people in some way. Eye has a blog that I sometimes guest write for that covers the design of books rather than their content.

  • >Do you read the entire thing via a feed reader or do you visit the web site? (And what feed reader do you use?)

    I visit the site to read the entire thing. I do have a feed reader on my iPhone but I tend to ignore it because Twitter takes up all of my time 🙂

    >If the feed items were shorter excerpts, would you bother to click through to the site or would that be irritating?

    Excerpts tend to be irritating but then again, I’d be reading from an iPhone.

    >How are the length of the reviews? Too long, too short, just right?

    I think they are just about right because you don’t dwell on certain items like most blogs do (which makes it harder to read on screen).

    >What books and disciplines would you like to see more reviews of?

    Nothing really in particular because I am amazed at what highly unexpected and creative topics get published. It is always a delight to stumbled upon a review of an offbeat book that I end up really wanting to buy! I do like books about usability and simple design. Books about illustration would also be great for me since I am an illustrator 🙂

    >Would you like to see more frequent reviews or is the pace good?

    I think the pace is good because too many reviews gives the books an impression of ‘a dime a dozen’ (and information overload). Fewer reviews makes them (and your reviews) more special, more worthy and gives you more time to read them, too.

    >If I were to put all Amazon’s links in the main article like this (USA|CA|UK|DE) would that be useful or irritating? I think it would.

    1. I read it all through Google Reader.

      1. No, I prefer to have the whole post in my reader, and I’ll click through if I’m interested in reading more.

      2. Just right!

      3. How-to books, such a cooking and crafts.

      4. I think the pace is pretty good. Too many and it’s hard to keep up w/

      5. Sure, wouldn’t bother me. Good idea.

  • Caryn – Some older books are on the cards too, especially from some of the well-known designers who are lined up (when I can prise them away from their work). Did you see Tobias Grime’s review of Vaughn Oliver’s This Rimy River?

    Kate – Cooking? You mean, you know, cooking for designers though right?

    Daniele – Good point. iPhone readers, how many of you out there? I imagine the image hit is a bit heavy…

  • I love your egg photo. sunny side up. 🙂 I love eggs.

    I used google reader. I prefer to read the whole article in my reader. The length is just nice (I don’t mind if you put more photos inside it). The pace is just right. I like the range of books you covered. the amazon links are useful.

  • Daniele – Good to know. German contracts for all mobile phones are 24 months, so I’m still waiting for mine to expire before I can get an iPhone. Of course, the question is, do I wait for the next gen version and when will it be?

    (Coincidentally, the reCaptcha word for this comment is “touch” – the other, weirdly, is “rock-macho”)

    1. Do you read the entire thing via a feed reader or do you visit the web site? (And what feed reader do you use?) I use Google Reader.

      1. If the feed items were shorter excerpts, would you bother to click through to the site or would that be irritating? I think it would be irritating. I tend to not click through on sites that already do this, as I prefer to have everything in one window/tab.

      2. How are the length of the reviews? Too long, too short, just right? Just right. I enjoy seeing the photos as well, and frequently share reviews via Twitter or Facebook.

    1. via google reader
    2. i’d click sometimes
    3. just right
    4. i like the way it is
    5. pace is good
    6. it’d be useful