Saturday 27 August 2011

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield - Book Review

Title: Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
Author: Simon Garfield
Publisher: Gotham Books
Publication Date: 1st September 2011
Pages: 288
Format: E-Book PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley

Fonts surround us every day, on street signs and buildings, on movie posters and books, and on just about every product we buy. But where do fonts come from, and why do we need so many? Who is responsible for the staid practicality of Times New Roman, the cool anonymity of Arial, or the irritating levity of Comic Sans (and the movement to ban it)?

Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about twenty years ago when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type. Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Simon Garfield explores the rich history and subtle powers of type. He goes on to investigate a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seeming ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and exactly why the all-type cover of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was so effective. It also examines why the "T" in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters and how Gotham helped Barack Obama into the White House. A must-have book for the design conscious, Just My Type's cheeky irreverence will also charm everyone who loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves and Schott's Original Miscellany. (Goodreads Synopsis)

This is a fun and interesting read that is perfect for all the font nerds out there and anyone who is interested in areas such as design, marketing and IT history.

I thought I had a pretty good idea about different fonts until this book opened my eyes. There were so many fonts I'd never heard of and others that I knew without realising they had once been designed for a specific purpose before becoming mainstream.

This book combined chapters on the general history of type and fonts with sections dedicated to the story behind specific fonts. The prose is clear and precise and does not require a knowledge of any technical language, which makes this book accessible to everyone and not just those in the industry. It also included a few little jokes and anecdotes and these helped to lighten what might otherwise have become a stodgy essay.

This book could be equally enjoyed by the enthusiast and by an interested outsider, since it is easy to dip into.

I read this as an ebook and had only one difficulty: The book is very image heavy and it is great to have illustrations to demonstrate the point being made, but at times I had to wait up to a couple of minutes for the page to scroll up or turn. This may just be my ereader as I only have a very basic model, but it is worth bearing in mind if you plan to buy this book as a digital copy. Obviously this poses no problem in paperback/hardback editions.

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