Book Review: Rework

The cover appealed to my design aesthetic – clean, clear, modern.

In their new book titled “Rework”, the co-founders of 37signals, creators of online software Basecamp and Highrise (among others), offer business advice based upon their own personal experience. Though I’m not one to pick-up a book of this nature very quickly, I decided to give this one a shot. Here’s why:

To be honest, what initially caught my eye about “Rework”, the book written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, was its cover design. The background is flooded in flat black ink, with a large piece of crumpled-up paper centered in the middle of the front cover. The wad of paper has been spot varnished, so it stands out nicely against the flat black ink on the matte paper stock. The masthead is set in a modern, sans serif font using two colors to emphasize the title’s play on words. The masthead is also varnished and embossed. Bottom line, the cover appealed to my design aesthetic – clean, clear, modern.

The next thing that caught my eye were the phrases on the book’s back cover. Instead of a lengthy writeup, as many books have, Rework features 7 phrases set in uppercase type, with size and color used to lead the eye and provide variety in presentation. The phrases themselves did a good job of previewing the content of the book and piquing my interest.

For instance, the phrase “Underdo the Competition” is displayed quite prominently on the back cover. That made me wonder exactly that might mean. “ASAP is Poison” is also featured, and that one resonated immediately. So, between the cover design and content previews, I was hooked.

As for the content of the book, it is presented in short, concise chapters easily digested over the course of several hours. Chapters are divided by full-page, single color graphics that are simple, yet functional, and make it easy to follow where the authors are leading. One of my favorite chapters is titled “Meetings are Toxic” – couldn’t agree more.

Overall, Rework is a collection of no-nonsense, matter-of-factly presented ideas and exhortations that attempt to strip-down our processes to just the basics, at the same time stripping-away excuses we often cling-to that keep us from make something happen.

It’s really a book of common sense, and I recommend it.