Meet the Beatles, in Print and Digital

Strategic Design for Digital & Print

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Meet the Beatles, in Print and Digital

Image of printed Beatles book and eBook

The Beatles set the paradigm for modern rock stardom when Beatlemania spread around the world during the Swinging Sixties. LIFE With the Beatles presents the photographs of Bob Whitaker, the band’s official photographer, who traveled with the group from 1964 to 1966, at the height of their fame. The book collects hundreds of rare photographs by Whitaker, many never before published, and is timed to the 50th anniversary of the releases of the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do” (1962), and first album, “Please Please Me” (1963). Great fans of the Fab Four, we welcomed the opportunity to work on the project, and have created a design—in both print and e-book formats—that showcases Whitaker’s exuberant, intimate images.

Image of Beatles (printed book and iPad)

We’ve worked with LIFE Books since 2009, serving as Creative Director for the series and designing several of its titles, most recently 50 Years of James Bond and The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rock ‘N’ Roll. The books tell stories through images, often pulling photography from the extensive Time & Life picture collection. LIFE With the Beatles is the first title in the series that has also been published as an e-book, available on Kindle and as an iBook for iPad. (A few earlier titles were published as stand-alone apps.)

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Infographic by (full graphic, click image)

Sales of tablets and e-readers continue to soar, and the devices are among the most popular gifts for holidays. According to recent surveys, one in six Americans now use an e-reader, and another one in six will begin to use one in the coming year (possibly after receiving it as a gift!) But print is still vital, and the two formats—books and e-books—will continue to co-exist: the survey finds that 88 percent who have used an e-reader in the past 12 months have also read printed books.

Bob Whitaker’s photos of the Beatles have a “you are there” excitement, and this is vividly brought to life on the tablet, where readers can immerse themselves in the images. The perception remains that image-based books are best viewed in print—there will always be a place for the coffee-table book—but photography looks spectacular in the backlit Cinema display of the iPad or high-definition screen of the Kindle Fire HD. The depth of detail is remarkably clear, and readers can enlarge or “zoom” into images, experiencing them in a way that is different from the printed page.

Image of Beatles (printed book and ebook)

We created templates for the digital versions of LIFE With the Beatles based on our design for the printed book. (Final implementation of the e-books was completed by Metrodigi.) Like other titles in the series, the layout maintains the iconic LIFE brand but creates a unique setting for the subject, with elements carefully coordinated to establish a framework that makes the photography the focus.

Whitaker was working on the project with LIFE at the time of his death in September 2011, and the book contains many of his personal remembrances and descriptions. We used a simple, straightforward design to convey his close relationship with the band. Images are reproduced as full spreads, enhancing the sense of intimacy and openness. Bold typography set in Knockout (for headers) and Miller Display (text) captures the mod spirit of the Swinging Sixties and complements the look and feel of LIFE.

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