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So I wrote a book. It’s called Responsive Web Design.

Oh. Hello.

So as it happens, I wrote a book. It came out today. It’s called Responsive Web Design. I really hope you like it.

…right, so. In the spirit of transparency I should probably tell you I rewrote that meager introduction about eight times, probably because I’m not sure how to introduce something like this. I mean, by my count I’ve coauthored five books, and writing for each has been a fantastic experience. I’ve written alongside some of my favorite writers—and people—in the industry. But I’m having a hard time articulating just how much it means to have published my first solo title. I’m giddy, nervous, terrified—but mostly? Excited.

“So what’s the book about and stuff I guess,” you ask. Well, Responsive Web Design expands on the ideas I articulated in the original article. It’s a crash course in how you can apply fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries to your own work, but let’s face it: design is so much more than those three ingredients. As a result, I’ve tried to share a few stories I’ve picked up from working on real, live responsive projects: the lessons I’ve learned, the questions that have been raised, the hard choices made. The result is a beautifully designed little book (take a bow, Jason) that contains everything you need to start exploring a more flexible, more responsive approach to designing for the web. And at 150 pages, it won’t overstay its welcome.

I have to say, I’m incredibly proud of the end result. And that’s made all the more valuable to me by the fact that it was published by A Book Apart. Jason, Mandy, and Jeffrey have created a special thing in their little publishing powerhouse, and I’m impossibly honored to join a lineup that includes the likes of Jeremy, Dan, and Erin, and will soon include Aarron, Luke, and Jason among their number.

(“Honored” is one way to put it. “Intimidated as all hell” would be another.)

What’s more, this book wouldn’t have been possible without Mandy Brown's careful, thoughtful supervision. She wrote a few kind words about the book, but I owe her a heavy debt: she is an impossibly talented designer, reader, and editor, and I can’t list the countless ways her efforts made the book so, so much better. I meant what I said on Twitter: if you ever have the chance to collaborate with her, leap at it.

So. If this little book sounds like something you’re interested in, I hope you’ll snag a copy. Personally, I’d recommend the paperback + ebook bundle, largely because I think both versions of the book are downright gorgeous: you get a lovely physical artifact, thoughtfully crafted by Stan, as well as an epub that has inline videos embedded in it.

(Seriously. A book. With goddamned video in it. We might very well be dealing with some profoundly flying-cars-and-ray-guns shit right here, people.)

If you’d like, you can read an excerpt from Chapter 3 right now. You can also read Jeremy Keith’s foreword, which might have made me well up a bit when I first read it. (Hush, you.) Dan Cederholm, who proved a thorough and brilliant and hilarious technical editor, also wrote up some wonderful words about the book. David Sleight, Jason Santa Maria, and Jeffrey have some thoughts online, too.

I guess I’ll close things out here, because I’m honestly touched by the reception thus far, that people I admire so thoroughly are excited about this little yellow book I spent ages thinking about. But that aside, I hope you’ll check out the book, find it relevant to your work, and maybe get a little excited. For what it's worth, the web's never felt more variable, more flexible to me than it does right now, and I haven’t felt more excited about designing for the web than I do right now. Things just feel, you know, fun.

Anyway, that's it from me. I hope you like the book, and as always, thanks for reading.

This is a blog entry posted on day 12418 in the Journal.

21 comments posted.


  1. Brad Frost says:

    Congrats, Ethan. You have a success on your hands here and I wish you all the best!

    I ordered the paperback version so I need to wait a few days to dig in.

    Congrats again!

  2. Klaus says:

    Congrats Ethan, after re-reading fluid grids and fluid images articles on A List Apart I couldn’t wait for the book. I’ve just ordered the e-book and after reading the first couple of chapters I’m now working out what part of my life can go on hold as I read through the rest of it. Well done to you and the team at abookapart

  3. David B says:

    Been reading your book this evening. Simply put, the book is awesome. Love the part about the pirate hat :)

  4. chris cullmann says:

    Congratulations. This is a terrific series and turning out to be a suite of books that helping shape a new approach to design and development. kudos!

  5. Mandy says:

    Honestly, dude. If you keep telling people how awesome I am, they’re going to start believing it. And then, I’m going to have to live up to all that? FOR REALZ?!?

    (All kidding aside, the book is fantastic, and I’m so proud to have played a small part in it. It means a lot that you trusted it to me. Thank you for that, and for everything you do to make the web better.)

  6. Jeff Chausse says:

    Bought it and read it cover to cover today. Beautiful work – it’s going to reinvigorate web design in this app-obsessed world. Congratulations!

  7. JT Thurston says:

    I’ve been so excited about getting this book I hardly slept… I kept checking abookapart.com over and over last night, hitting refresh again and again looking for the darn “add to cart” option! LOL If it had been in a store, I probably would have set up camp outside…. but at last I have it now! Got the book + ebook combo (have all of the books in the series).
    Your ideas for RWD are truly a change in philosophy and technique for webdesign… absolutely brilliant!
    Thank you!

  8. Nate Klaiber says:

    Congrats on the release of your book, Ethan. This is a great accomplishment for both you and the web as a whole.

    Thank you.

  9. Graham says:




    I hope the best for your book because it’s awesome and I’ve been using the technique. I hope others see the awesomeness in it. I’m going to the book store to pick up my copy.

  10. Shannon Mølhave says:

    Haha congratulations Ethan, you deserve it! I’m really looking forward to getting the book and wearing out the tiny binding from referencing it a billion times. :)

  11. Chris Shiflett says:

    Congrats, Ethan!

  12. Ralph says:

    I’ve read today your book and although my fixed width site is only a half year old a responsive redesign is in the planning :)

  13. PhilipBarron says:

    Congrats, Ethan. Looking forward to getting schooled on this new-fangled responsive stuff.

  14. Louis Lazaris says:

    Looking forward to checking it out, congrats.

    Question: Any particular reason why you referred to Jason Santa Maria as “Stan”?

  15. The Robot says:

    Thanks so much for the comments, guys! It really, really means a lot.

    (Louis, have you seen Rob Weychert’s Virtual Stan? If not, I highly recommend it as potential homepage fodder.)

  16. DESIGNfromWITHIN says:

    Got the book, it looks amazing thx!

  17. Rick Davies says:

    I have just finished the first chapter of your book. I followed the link to your robot or not page. (I love robots too, especially red ones.)

    When I changed the orientation of my iPad to check it out (from portrait tit landscape), it broke… Did switch orientation but did not scale… And then froze… I’d really like this to work but it dunt * just tried again to be sure to be sure *

  18. The Robot says:

    Thanks, Rick. Sorry you’re having some problems with the iPad. There’s some zooming bug triggered when switching from portrait to landscape that disables pinch-zooming; I’m still looking into it, but in the interim you can double-tap to reset the zoom.

    I’m still working on smoothing out a few things on the iPad, but in the meantime I hope that helps!

  19. Simon says:

    I was up til 4.10am last night, worked through it from beginning to end in one session – it’s very rare for a non-fiction book to have that effect on me.

    Two things really stand out for me:

    1. The paradigm shift from designing for desktop then thinking “now how the hell do I get this to look good on 100s of different bloody mobiles”, to designing for everything in parallel right from the outset.
    2. The immense (some would say immensely sad) satisfaction I get from using percentages with 14 decimal places in my layouts :-)
  20. David Bailes says:

    Re: setting padding as a percentage. On page 35 you say that this is a percentage of the elements width. However, according to the current css 2.1 spec, setting either margin or padding refers to containing element’s width. This is the case in practice for both ie9 and firfox 4, though I haven’t checked earlier browsers.

  21. The Robot says:

    Hey David — you’re right, that section’s misleading, and should be fixed. I’ll add a note to the errata, and ask about patching that up. Thanks!

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