I appreciate and admire that these authors put their books on the web for free. By free books, I don’t just mean files you can download, or excerpts on fancy landing pages. They are the actual text formatted as beautiful, functional webpages—redefining our idea of what a book is, and what it means to have free access to the wisdom that comes from it.
Programming Design Systems by Rune Madsen
Straight to the point and still in progress, it has this modern contrast to a lot of the vintage figures. It also takes advantage of the medium for syntax highlighting and rendering examples in
The Web Project Guide by Deane Barker & Cory Vilhauer
A couple of chapters are released each month, but the table of contents is already mapped out so you know what’s coming up. Pretty illustrations, and the footnotes slide in artfully when needed.
The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane
The first title on A Book Apart done up like this, it captures the reading experience of the publisher’s ebooks and print books quite nicely.
Resilient Web Design by Jeremy Keith
“Designed to be read on the web, (with or without an internet connection)” but also available in other formats, including audio. It’s less of a “how-to” and more of a history book that gives context to the nature of the web.
How to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert
A beautiful title on Information Architecture that is so thoroughly hyperlinked. A paperback version is also for sale on Amazon. The only one in this list that uses sans-serif, with a very Swiss look to it.
Collaborate: Bring people together around digital projects by Ellen de Vries
I love the warm and peppy feel of the illustrations; this appears to be the most “styled” of the lot.
“A job title is not enough of a description. At the beginning of a collaboration you need to develop allegiances and learn who to turn to for expertise. To do that, you need to spend time getting closer to the story of what people do.”
The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web by Richard Rutter
The pioneer of this phenomenon, I would say. It’s even open sourced on Github so people can collaborate further.
Designing for the Web by Mark Boulton
Originally a product of Five Simple Steps, it was generously put up after the publisher closed down. Talks about the important design principles to get you started on web design, and what it takes to do it.
“A web designer has to be adaptable. Willing to learn, and ready to embrace change. A web designer has to be willing to shed previously high–held design sensibilities and start from scratch. They have to accept, challenge and manipulate the constraints of the web. They must do all of this whilst keeping one eye firmly on their own personal design journey; where they’ve come from, and where they’re going.
All of that is why I love the web. If you give it chance, it’s an enriching design medium, and one from which many never return.”