About

“something red, with a shade of black” is a side project of mine dedicated to providing well-formatted digital versions of great works, such as Rousseau’s The Social Contract and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

You might be wondering, why can’t I simply download a copy from, say, Project Gutenberg? They’re a more reliable source, and, to a much greater degree, a more reputable organisation. Well, for starters, all of our documents are transcribed from sources such as Project Gutenberg, and all the works that are typeset are on the public domain, so everything here is perfectly legal and true to the originals. Most importantly, however, is if you believe in our design philosophy; minimalism, ease to reading, and professionalism.

Minimalism

You’re here to read the text of a great work, not to sift through pages upon pages of introductions, publishing information, or legalese. I’m someone who gets severely irked by those things, which leads to a poor reading experience. To amend that, I cut the works down to their bare bones; the title, the author, a table of contents, chapter and section headers, page numbers, and the text. Of course, I try to stay faithful to the original, so anything essential to the original’s essence, such as an image or an epigraph, will also be included. By keeping everything to a minimum, it allows you to focus on the exact reason why you started reading in the first place: the essence of the work. Everything you need is there (hopefully), and everything you don’t need isn’t.

I think there’s a beauty in minimalism. As the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery put it, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

contents
Table of Contents from The Social Contract. As you can see, there isn’t any filler material like the Translator’s Introduction or publication info.

Ease to Reading

Now, I understand that it’s quite easy to change the fonts in e-books, which is quite nice. However, you have much less control outside of that realm. My preferred font is EB Garamond. It has a sleek look, it’s visually pleasing, and it uses the least amount of ink of all fonts (much more relevant if you want to print a hard copy)! Font is something I really care about when reading, and EB Garamond is one of those fonts that I genuinely enjoy reading. I hope that it enhances your reading experience as well.

The works also contain hyperlinks for footnotes and chapters, making it easy to navigate through the document.

easytoread
An excerpt from The Social Contract. Double spaced between paragraphs, 12 point EB Garamond font, footnotes with navigation. Not as much of an eyesore as the plain text versions online.

Professionalism

When I’m typesetting a work, I ask myself, if I were a book collector, would I want to print this out and add it to my collection? I want my typeset versions to be keepers, and to do that I go for a professional book. Not only does professionalism bring reputability to the work that I do, it also makes the work more visually appealing (thus easier to read).

To boil it down to one sentence, a professional-looking work is a both a beautiful work and a timeless work.

minimalism
Title page of The Social Contract, the left is Project Gutenberg’s, the right is from this site. Compare the level of professionalism and the aesthetic appeal. I prefer the right.

If you have any criticisms or suggestions, please leave a comment! All constructive feedback is appreciated and will be considered. Of course, if you like what I’m doing, feel free to just leave some positive comments!