I was recently contacted by John Clifford of Think Studio in NYC who designed the cover of the book Graphic that I reviewed a couple weeks ago. He and Herb Thornby had designed the book One Million by Hendrik Hertzberg and was curious to know if I would be interested in checking it out. I was so within a couple days I had a copy in my hands.
The idea behind the book is to display a million dots while pulling out numbers that seem like data though very quickly becomes a story through information. As I was reading the pages it struck me that I was looking at the full circle of life. Common data was placed in the context of births, deaths, geography, military, space, time, travel, jail, money among many other categories. For instance we learn that 150,300 people crossed the Brooklyn bridge on foot on opening day, May 24,1883 while 150,835 US deaths in a day happened in 2008. It’s information like that to compare that makes the book fascinating.
In the design each dot that has a number associated with it is pulled out on the page. Along with the number is the context of what it means. While the book is 200 pages flipping through each with essentially the same number of dots it never got boring. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of cool website or app this book would make. Each dot could easily have an association that when clicked/pressed could provide more information. Those dots would also be live so some of them over time would move.
The biggest issue i had with the book is that the sources are not listed. I didn’t doubt that the actual numbers were real but it seems like a strange omission. Calling the book a toy doesn’t really omit the need. I think fans of typography and order will enjoy this book though I think there’s broad appeal to those that are interested in the social sciences or people that just like the story of humanity.
Title: One Million
Author: Hendrik Hertzberg
Publisher: Abrams Image