Lou Rosenfeld: New Approach to an old industry

by New Idiom

In all your rethinking during your time at ID, have you ever stopped to consider the book as a candidate for redesign? Can you think of the last innovation that hit the hardback since the paperback? Lou Rosenfeld, founder of Rosenfeld Media, is doing just that: innovating on the book.

Lou visited ID last week and started his Thursday afternoon lecturette with a few questions: What do you like in a book? What makes a book easier to use? Where do you read? How much time do you spend reading at once? What should a well-designed book consist of? The questions led to a discussion that sounded out important book characteristics. Besides being well written, they also need to be written with specific usage in mind: Reference? Light reading? Commuter friendly? Designing the book for all purposes and all readers is a challenge.

What do we look for in a book? Content, to be sure, but also, a sturdy way-finding system and varying levels of depth are important. As a user experience (UX) designer—a term generally reserved for interactive web designers—Lou is trying to find a new and effective interface for his books. For example, the first book to be published by Rosenfeld Media will include not only the standard table of contents and index, but also imports a common internet feature, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, that he hopes will launch the reader into the content of the book.

Lou is also developing a web tool called the UX Zeitgeist mashup. “Zeitgeist refers to the ethos of a select group of people, that express a particular…world view” (Wikipedia). In other words, Rosenfeld’s mashup embodies the group thought of UX designers, as generated through web feeds and book recommendations from invited UX professionals. The books most important to the UX field will soon bubble up.

The UX Zeitgeist already features a top ten UX book list. What’s at the top of the chart? Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace (9th Edition), by Joseph Williams. To see the other books on the chart, visit the site: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/zeitgeist. It might recommend your next good read.

Besides best books over all, there are two other lists on the zeitgeist. One features dark horse books, books that deserve more attention, and the other, desert island UX books. What’s the at the top of the desert island list?: Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug. As for me, I don’t know if you could stop me from thinking if I were on a desert island.