By Anna Lewington
Published by Eden Project Books, 2003
According to the publicity, "Plants for People is published with a mission to help us respect the diversity of plant life on earth, and to acknowledge and fairly recompense the millions of people whose knowledge and services support us every day."
It is a beautifully produced book, well illustrated and well printed on good quality paper. The text is comprehensive, and yet readable. I have only two serious criticisms: the first is that, in common with many other recently produced books, it is ‘over designed’. Computers allow book designers to be able to do so many things that were difficult or impossible in the past – but it doesn’t always follow that it is a good idea to do them. This volume ends up looking more like a printed version of a web site – with far too many ‘boxes’ of text, bullet points ad lib, words highlighted in bold, and long lines of unjustified text. My second , and perhaps more significant, criticism is that despite being lavishly illustrated, quite a lot of the plants written about are not illustrated at all– it would be nice to know what the rattan palm looks like when growing, – or the kauri gum, or rosewood – rather than a boy eating a bowl of rice, or a close-up of an organic tomato!
Nonetheless, it is useful addition for a library, and if you don’t find the cluttered design a problem, a good read. And it makes an excellent case for the conservation of natural resources.
Review by John Burton