Cover photograph of The Mobile Book by Smashing MagazineSummary: A beautifully presented, thorough and thoughtful book on nearly all aspects of mobile development from the best writers in the field.

Price: $49.90 (bound copy with free eBook edition, Smashing Magazine). $17.69 (Kindle edition, Amazon)

Crafting a printed book about the web – especially mobile development – appears faintly anachronistic. Why put words on paper when the technology you’re writing about changes almost daily?

Vitaly Friedman’s Smashing Magazine has three answers to this question: creating printed books that are deeply considered, highly informative, and a physical pleasure to read. While SM acknowledges the reality of digital media by publishing the same content as an eBook (while taking advantage of the format by rapidly iterating electronic appendices) it is the physical volume that I will be concentrating on here.

Smashing Magazine has a long and well-earned reputation for emphasizing quality over quantity, and The Mobile Book is no exception. The book is divided into seven chapters written by luminaries in the field, printed on glossy, heavy paper stock with an elegant pagekeeper ribbon. The text is perfectly balanced between immediate concerns about the state of play in the mobile market (in a chapter written by Peter-Paul Koch, who manages to make the complex, paradoxical relationships between telecommunications companies and retail vendors sound as engrossing as anything from The Bourne Identity), current techniques (responsive design patterns by Trent Walton and Brad Frost), prototyping (an extensive chapter by Denis Kardys) and the future (Stephanie Reiger).

Inside photograph of The Mobile Book by Smashing MagazineThe material in each chapter is dense – not in terms of comprehension or readability, but in the sheer volume of information imparted on each page, extensively annotated with shortened, easily typed URLs to web resources. The Mobile Book is not a volume to be read lightly or in passing, but something to be deeply considered, put down, picked up again and read again. Thought, consideration and the practice of development are emphasized over technique and flashy CSS.

The design of the volume is simply wonderful: strong consistent illustrations, perfectly set type and quality binding. It even smells right.

As the book continually emphasizes, the fluidity of the mobile market has worked itself into the workflow process of every modern website, demanding close communication between all contributors as an adaption to constant change. This means that everyone involved in site production must share a common grammar, together with an understanding of the restrictions that each project contributor faces. The only area of the book that I felt under-emphasized was mobile content generation and strategy, although that could be ably filled on your bookshelf by a work such as Karen McGrane’s Content Strategy for Mobile.

If I were starting a responsive site today I would hand out a copy of The Mobile Book to every project stakeholder: designer, writer, developer, and client.  It’s that good, and that important.

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