Right Reading is taking some time off. If circumstances allow I may make the occasional post, but posting will be, at best, light for the next couple of weeks. After that: recharged!
Month: September 2009
The first post at The Art of American Book Covers, by Richard Minsky, was made on August 26, so this blog is less than a month old. I regret that I don’t remember who directed me to it, but this blog is so rich in knowledge about techniques of book production that it makes me feel like an absolute novice. The blog will apparently focus on fine books of the nineteenth century. The image above is a detail from a book published by L. C. Page, who it seems offered each of their titles in red, white or blue cloth (wow!). Instead of stamping, a white cloth panel was glued onto the red and blue books. Following is a portion of the blog’s commentary related to this detail, but you should check out Minsky’s blog for the full story:
A lot of people have weighed in with examples of book titles then and now over at kottke.org. These are some of my favorites:
Then: Book of Genesis
Now: FLOOD! A true story of heartbreak, heroism, and the will to survive
Then: Moby Dick
Now: Orca Obsession: How the Whaling Industry Is Destroying Our Sea and Sailors
Then: Romeo and Juliet
Now: The Teen Sex and Suicide Epidemic: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself and Your Family
Then: The Gospel of Matthew
Now: 40 Days and a Mule: How One Man Quit His Job and Became the Boss
And my own contribution:
Then: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Now: Chicken Soup for the Kitchen
Recently Wired magazine asked a group of designerz to reenvision Craigslist. According to Wired, “Visitors arriving at craigslist are confronted by a confusing homepage cluttered with links most people will never click on. Overall, the user interface is in dire need of an organizing principle that guides you to the details you seek while filtering out extraneous information.”
A friend and colleague, Will Powers, died suddenly of a heart attack on August 25. I had worked with Will when I was at North Point Press, employing him as a free-lance copy editor and proofreader. He had worked previously as a typographer at Stinehour Press, and he brought a craftsman’s eye to the projects he worked on. About twenty years ago, Will moved to the twin cities, and for the past eleven years he worked as design and production manager for the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
Above, where I mentioned his work as a proofreader, I initially typed “proofreading” instead, and I was sorely tempted to retain that error, for reasons that will become apparent. Sometime in the past year or two Will e-mailed me the following poem, entitled “The Printer’s Error,” by Aaron Fogel. It seems a fitting memorial, and I hope the author will not mind me running it here in Will’s memory.
Ikea has used the geometric bauhausesque Futura (left above), designed by Paul Renner around 1925, as its signature font for some fifty years. It’s a font that emphasizes the Platonic essence of letterforms in an interesting way but provides little forward momentum, so to speak, for extended reading.
Verdana (designed by Matthew Carter around the late 1990s, I think; at right above) is a more “humanist” (the letterforms to some degree evoke traditional Renaissance pen letterforms) font that was designed for use at small sizes on computer monitors. To this end it has a large x-height, large counters (openings), broad character widths, and other features that help to identify letters and tell similar ones apart at small sizes.
A lot of typeheads are distressed by Ikea’s decision, largely because Ikea is using Verdana as a display face, a function for which it wasn’t really intended.
Well, true, it doesn’t look as good, so why are they making the change?