A Gentle Introduction


Quantum Computing: A Gentle Introduction by Eleanor Rieffel and Wolfgang PolakOur book, Quantum Computing: A Gentle Introduction, has been out for a little over a month. So far, it has received as much attention from weaving blogs as science blogs, due to the card-woven bands on the cover.

MIT press takes pride in their cover designs, but warns authors that¬† “schedules rarely allow for individual consultation between designers and authors.” They do, however, ask authors to fill out a detailed questionnaire that includes questions asking for the authors’ thoughts with respect to a cover. It was the third question “What would you like the viewer to think or feel when they see the cover?” that prompted me to think that a fabric with abstract, colorful designs would suggest a “gentle” introduction to an abstract and colorful subject. Without much hope of MIT press paying attention to the suggestion, I also mentioned that both Wolfgang Polak and I have family members who make beautiful quilts and weavings that might be appropriate for the cover.

We were thrilled when MIT press not only liked the general suggestion, but were willing to take a look at Gudrun Polak’s work to see if it would be appropriate. In spite of their warning, MIT press designer Molly Ballou Seamans corresponded with Gudrun at length, and we all got to see multiple designs and give her our feedback. Our wonderful editor, Ada Brunstein, also weighed in on the designs. Though I could never have come up with the design myself, the final cover looks to me exactly how my book is supposed to look. I couldn’t be more pleased. Many thanks to all of the people involved, particularly Molly and Gudrun.

For those of you more interested in the contents of the book than the cover, both MIT press and Amazon now offer previews of parts of the book, including the table of contents.

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  1. The cover is very nice. Elegant, almost understated, but very inviting. I’m looking forward to reading this book in due course.

    Congratulations once again, Eleanor, on this publication.


  2. The cover is really nice, but’s let’s not forget the contents!

  3. Alaire Rieffel says:

    I can’t resist pointing out that the first computer (at least in a sense) was a loom–controlled by punch cards. One can still control a loom with a computer, only now for handweavers it’s usually a laptop.

  4. Alaire – Yes! We hadn’t thought of that connection, but a handful of people, mostly weavers, have pointed it out. That creates a more explicit tie between the cover and the book contents.

  5. MIT press liked the cover so much that they used a variant for the cover of their Computer Science and Intelligent Systems catalog! Each page also has a little decoration based on one of Gudrun’s patterns.

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