Monday, December 9, 2013

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

By Simon Garfield
Gotham Books, 2011. 356 pages. Nonfiction

Until the advent of computers for the common man, most people had never given a moment’s thought to fonts. Now everyone has myriad fonts at their disposal: Century Gothic, Bookman Old Style, Helvetica, Comic Sans, Garamond, etc. This book is a terrific introduction and overview to font design, implications & consequences of font selections, and a bit of history of types. There are numerous historical vignettes and anecdotes. My favorite regards the unfortunate fate of the original Cobden-Sanderson fonts used to produce the beautiful books that issued from the Doves Press in the early 20th century. The stories of successful and unsuccessful font selections permeate our culture.  Amy Winehouse, Barack Obama, The Beatles and the Beach Boys, American Airlines, IKEA, Vanity Fair & Tiger Woods all pepper the pages of Just My Type. Font designs are intellectual property and require licenses for their proper use. There is a deliciously ironic story about a problematic anti-piracy campaign by HADOPI, the French agency responsible for policing copyright infringements.

This book is well written, nicely illustrated, and surprisingly engaging. I found this book to be both useful and entertaining. One word of warning: if you do read this book, you may find that you begin seeing the typefonts instead of the words.


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