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Wishlist: A Book That Evolves Before Your Eyes

Fathom’s color-coded version of “On the Origin of Species” changes as you read it.

<em>On the Origin of Species,</em> and the origin of the <em>Origin of Species,</em> and the origin of the origin of the origin of species...
On the Origin of Species, and the origin of the Origin of Species, and the origin of the origin of the origin of species… Courtesy Fathom

Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. But—not unlike the creatures he was writing about—it wasn’t quite done. Over the next 14 years, he continued to revise his masterwork, tweaking words, refining phrases, and adding pages and pages of new ideas.

Sure, you can read the sixth edition and get the gist. But if you want to know how it all came together, you might want to check out this version, published by Boston-based information design firm Fathom. Their version of On the Origin of Species color-codes each word of Darwin’s final text according to the edition in which it first appeared, so that, while reading, you can watch it grow and change.

Inside, the text is color-coded based on the edition in which it first appeared.
Inside, the text is color-coded based on the edition in which it first appeared. Courtesy Fathom

It’s aesthetically evolved, too. On the outside, its understated spine helps to camouflage it among more traditional books. Open it up, though, and the color-coding spills out, like a bird of paradise fluffing its tail.

The project also comes in poster form, if you prefer to drink in your intellectual history all at once. And even better, all proceeds go to charity, to help with species survival writ large.

On the Origin of Species Book
$47.74, Blurb.com

Poster
$45, Fathom

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