Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts - Simon Garfield You may ask why so many different typefaces. They all serve the same purpose but they express man's diversity. It's the same diversity we find in wine. I once saw a list of Medoc wines featuring 60 different Medocs all of the same year. All of them were wines but each were different from the others. It's the nuances that are important. The same is true of typefaces.Adrian Frutiger, quoted in Just My TypeHow much difference can a change of typeface make? Quite a lot, according not only to Garfield, but to the many designers of typefaces he references in this rather entertaining book, which I picked up after a customer special ordered it. (I kept my library copy four days past its due date. It was ineligible for renewal due to a waitlist, and it was interesting enough that I was willing to incur fines in order to finish it.) The book is spined by a history of moveable type, starting of course with the days of Gutenberg and leading up to our own digital era and the plethora of fonts at our fingertips. The narrative meanders through history as one might stroll down a country lane with a resident of the neighbourhood, stopping to point out this or that detail of the view, and introducing you to the various residents as the narrative stops to examine the individual histories of particular fonts. Among many others, we meet Eric Gill, the designer of Gill Sans; John Baskerville, the designer of one of my favourite fonts; and Max Miedinger, the original draughtsman of Helvetica, possibly the most ubiquitous font in our everyday world. Touching on, for the layperson, the many unexpected aspects of typography, Garfield has created an entertaining book, and if you find yourself starting to notice fonts a bit more, and even trying to identify them, I don't think he would be displeased. I confess, this book has already made me even more aware of those times when I see an ineffective book cover. Now, when I stop to consider why, I find it's often because they've mis-chosen the typeface.