Grid Systems in Graphic Design for less than $80
January 6, 2006 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in some books by Josef-Muller Brockman, specifically Grid Systems in Graphic Design, but I don't want to pay $78 for the book.

The local library doesn't have any of the ones in which I'm interested in the circulating collection, and I don't think it's going to do me much good to flip through the books at the library. Does anyone know where to get these at more reasonable prices? Are there PDFs anywhere? Are they worth $80/each?
posted by jeb to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
if you'd like to just read or reference the books you're interested in, without actually owning them or having them in your home, this might work: make nice with one of the clerks at your local giant chain bookstore. ask them to special order the book for you and when it comes in, let that same bookseller know you're refusing the special order and ask them very nicely if they'll "refuse it into stock" rather than send it back. depending perhaps on the publisher, I don't see why they wouldn't as long as you're nice about it. then, visit with the book in the store at your leisure. or wait for a good sale or coupon and get 30% off.
posted by carsonb at 1:43 PM on January 6, 2006

Tried Froogle?
posted by slater at 1:45 PM on January 6, 2006

I've ...heard... that there are scanned copies of said book on many torrent sites, if you're into that kind of thing.
posted by sluggo at 1:54 PM on January 6, 2006

Your local public library should be able to get you the title(s) you want on Interlibrary Loan, even for things that are relatively rare in libraries, which Grid systems in graphic design is not (OCLC shows 271 locations for the 1981 ed., 43 for the 1985, 9 for the 1988, and 72 for the 1996). There's usually no charge for this service.

Basically you just contact the library and let them know what you want and if there's a date you need it by. Once the library gets your materials in through the mail, standard procedure is that you go to the library and check out the book and take it home as usual. Before you need to return it, if there are sections you'd like to keep, visit your local copy shop and make copies. Don't violate copyright laws, now...(like I could keep you from doing so).

BTW, I don't mean to talk to you like you're experience is that a lot of otherwise smart, educated people are not aware of the extent of interlibrary loan services at their public libraries. If you already know all this, my apologies.

(Sorry, can't link to where I found the location have to have an account to use it. I work in ILL, hence I have an OCLC account.)
posted by gillyflower at 2:39 PM on January 6, 2006

Carsonb: you are, in essence, recommending stealing from the bookstore. Let me ask you this: when do you suppose that the store has to pay for the book? When they order it, or when someone buys it? Obviously, it is the former. So you're just proposing the jeb ask someone else - in this case, the bookstore - to front the cost of the book for him.

Yes, yes, it's a big-chain store, and no, the purchase of one $80 retail book won't put them out of business. (Of course I recognize that it's $80 retail, so the store actually pays less than that.) Nonetheless, it's intellicutally dishonest.

Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly publishing, has a great article entitled "Buy Where You Shop" that was written to discourage people from browsing at a local bookstore and then buying a book cheaper online. Read it, and if you still think that your suggestion is just a neat way for someone to read books for free, then so be it. I for one wouldn't be able to sleep with myself while ripping off a company - even a huge multi-national company - like this. But that's just me.

To answer the original post: if you really want to read the book, buy it. I know $80 is a lot to spend on a book. I don't know your economic situation, and $80 may be a HUGE amount to spend on a book. But it's a small investment for something you're interested in, and honestly buying it makes sure that all of the people responsible for bringing it to you - Mr. Brockman, the publisher, the retailer, etc. - get paid what they deserve. Both of the suggestions yo've marked as "best answers" are theft, plain and simple.

Let me make one last little appeal to you: given the topic of the book in question, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you want to go into graphic design. How would you feel if, in a few years, you had a published work into which you had poured your valuable time and energy, and was in fact the source of your livelyhood, and someone came on this list, asked the question you asked about your work, and got either of the answers you've marked as "best"?
posted by robhuddles at 2:41 PM on January 6, 2006

robhuddles shines too harsh a light on my recommendation. the big booksellers love having you in the store, even if you're not gonna buy that book you've been browsing in the comfortable chair with your large breve for the last hour.

special ordering a book into a store's stock is akin to gillyflower's interlibrary loan "scheme", but stretched onto a corporate framework (rather than the library's government-funded one). your special order is not coming from a library, it is not coming from the shelf of a store that specializes in that stuff, it is coming from a box in a warehouse, and you're putting it on the shelf of a popular retailer. the worst that could happen is you go in one day, get your coffee, and find that someone else has purchased the book you were reading.
posted by carsonb at 2:51 PM on January 6, 2006

robhuddles: You make some good points. Here's another idea: inserting libraries into the equation means that you don't have to go to B&N or another big-box store to browse. You can go to the library and read something there, or check it out for a brief period of time, without having to purchase it. That's what libraries are for.

Granted, if the library doesn't physically have the item you're looking for, it takes a little planning ahead to get it. But it's still free and legal, you're drawing from a bigger pool of items because it's not just stuff currently in print, and no one will try to sell you a triple-espresso-mocha-whip Starbucks monstrosity. (Not at most libraries, anyway!)
posted by gillyflower at 2:53 PM on January 6, 2006

if you do feel guilty about my "scheme," do the interlibrary loan. it should work.
is OCLC Online Catalog of Library Catalogs? if so, sounds awesome.
posted by carsonb at 2:55 PM on January 6, 2006

OCLC is "Online Computer Library Center", which dosn't begin to explain what it actually does. It's the most widely used union catalog (=catalog of the contents of many libraries) and also provides services for libraries like an interlibrary loan utility, cataloging software, and oh yes, a few years ago they bought the Dewey Decimal System. (Bet you didn't even know it was for sale, huh?)

In my work (at an interlibrary loan clearinghouse) I use their main union catalog, WorldCat, to verify where a particular title is held so I know where to refer a request. Our account then has custom settings that help me send the request right over OCLC's system. Requests cost money (as does our subscription to access the database), but then so does everything in life, and we're funded by the state to cover it.

Speaking as a library geek, I looooove WorldCat because although not every library in the world has their holdings there, just about everything ever published is in there, and you can quickly get an idea of where it's held (therefore, how likely is it that you can get your hot little hands on it sometime in the next few months). Once upon a time it seemed like magic; since then I've done cataloging and I know how much work goes into a bibliographic record. But the whole thing still makes me smile every so often. It is awesome and I'm lucky to have access to it at this job.
posted by gillyflower at 3:10 PM on January 6, 2006

Another completely legal option is to buy it and then resell it on Amazon. It'll cost you $15-20, but you can hold onto it as long as you want. (Of course you need to spend the money now. No free lunch.)
posted by smackfu at 3:27 PM on January 6, 2006 has it for $60 (pre-shipping).
posted by O9scar at 4:16 PM on January 6, 2006

By the way, gillyflower (and others), individual libraries may also provide access to OCLC WorldCat for regular patrons.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners site, for example, has a "Login to Magazines and Reference Books from Home or Office" page that accepts (any?) Massachusetts library card number and links to WorldCat. Check your library's Web site or ask a librarian to see if this is available to you.

In other important OCLC news, an Ohio library entered holdings information on August 11, 2005 for the book The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s Pop Sensation, generating the one-billionth holding record in the WorldCat database.
posted by yz at 5:06 PM on January 6, 2006

i would highly recommend The Typographic Grid - but be prepared to drop a bit more dough or you could start here for grid systems
posted by specialk420 at 6:28 PM on January 6, 2006

If you want the books, you could try Amazon's used sellers... you can get books for just a dollar or two on some titles.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:54 PM on January 6, 2006

Following carsonb's scheme will not likely put the bookstore out any, but rather the publisher. Bookstores work on a returnable basis, which means that after a certain amount of time, a bookseller can simply send back all stock to the publisher for a full refund, and only pay the shipping and handling fees required for the return. I don't know if bookstores have different policies for special orders, and if you're doing this at a smaller bookstore the cost of returning a single book isn't as easy to swallow as it would be at a Barnes & Noble. But it's not theft.

Of course, you can avoid all this by trying interlibrary loan. Also, try local universities, colleges and art schools. Often they'll have community borrower memberships you can purchase, and you can easily check the online catalog beforehand to see if the book you want is available. And, of course, usually there's nothing stopping you from walking into a university library and taking a look around (though sometimes libraries are restricted to students and faculty with valid ID cards).
posted by chrominance at 12:01 AM on January 7, 2006

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