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Just My Type: A Book About Fonts Paperback – September 4, 2012


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Just My Type: A Book About Fonts + Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students + The Elements of Typographic Style: Version 4.0: 20th Anniversary Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781592407460
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592407460
  • ASIN: 1592407463
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: Simon Garfield’s Just My Type presents an entertaining history of fonts, from font "pirating" dating back nearly as far as Gutenberg to the creation of Comic Sans and Ikea’s font-change controversy. With a variety of recent, news-making examples and font samples throughout, Just My Type explains how and why certain fonts can elicit emotions or gut-instinct reactions. Garfield’s humor and historical anecdotes add to his deep understanding of how something as simple as font choice can speak volumes about our cultural climate--and why it’s so easy to agonize over what font to use on a party invitation. Whether you’re already a font aficionado or can’t tell the difference between Times New Roman and Arial, this entertaining history will give you a greater appreciation of the typefaces that surround you every day. --Malissa Kent

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“This is a smart, funny, accessible book that does for typography what Lynne Truss’s best-selling Eats, Shoots & Leaves did for punctuation: made it noticeable for people who had no idea they were interested in such things.”
(Janet Maslin, The New York Times)

"Whether you're a graphic designer or a layperson with no background in this area, reading what Garfield has to say will change the way you perceive the written word forever.”
(The Los Angeles Times)

“A deliriously clever and entertaining book”
(The Boston Globe)

“Informative, delightful — and essential reading for word geeks everywhere.”
(The Seattle Times)

“Lively […] intriguing […] a cheeky book about the human side and our reaction to fonts.”
(Seattle Post Intelligencer)

“Highly entertaining … Garfield takes readers on a rollicking tour of the world of typography, from book jackets to road signs, TV shows to computers.”
(USA Today)

“Reading Simon Garfield’s Just My Type can transform your daily life into an endless quest for knowledge of the typefaces in which signs, books, magazines, newspapers, etc. are set.”
(Washington Post)

“Garfield’s romping history (with multitype text) is zestfully informative.”
(Booklist)

“Funny and fascinating, irreverent and playful yet endlessly illuminating, the book is an absolute treat for the type-nerd, design history geek, and general lover of intelligent writing with humor.”
(The Atlantic)

“A thoroughly entertaining, well-informed tour of typefaces”
(Kirkus)

“Garfield has a light touch and moves effortlessly among various aspects of typography past and present […] Highly recommended to all, whether or not you feel predisposed to like this kind of thing! Eye-opening and mind-expanding!”
(Library Journal)

A “lively romp through the history of fonts. Garfield’s evocative prose […] entices us to see letters instead of just reading them.”

(Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

This book is SO much fun to read!
LaurieHere dot com - Contemporary Fiction and MORE - Book Reviews
The biggest of font wars has had a comic edge to it, and it is the starting point for Garfield's book.
R. Hardy
I feel the book was very well written and it truly held my interest, more so than I expected.
Claudine Cable

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

198 of 206 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You are looking at it right now, and if it is doing its job, you don't even notice it. It might represent a creation that has taken centuries to come to its current state of perfection, or it might be something that a dedicated specialist worked on for years and brought out a decade ago. It represents artistry directed within a circumscribed realm. I am talking about the font in which these letters are presented. Thirty years ago, fonts were usually the interest of only a select few in the printing world, but now every computer is charged with fonts and everyone gets to be an amateur typographer (technically, the font is a specific set of metal parts, or digital files, that allows reproduction of letters, and a typeface is the design of letters the font allows you to reproduce, but you can see how the words would get used interchangeably). Simon Garfield is not a professional typographer; his role is bringing out fine nonfiction about, say, stamp collecting, history, or the color mauve. But he has an amateur's enthusiasm for fonts, and communicates it infectiously in _Just My Type: A Book About Fonts_ (Profile Books). This is not a collection of type designs, though there are many illustrations. In most cases it won't help you in finding out what font you happen to be looking at (but it will tell you how to do so in surprising ways). It is a book of appreciation for an art that is largely invisible, but is also essential.

I would not like to read pages set in any of the fonts in one of Garfield's last chapters, "The Worst Fonts in the World." On the list is Papyrus, which caused a stir when it was used extensively in the film _Avatar_. The expensive film used a free (and overused) display font, and font fans noticed.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Simon Garfield is a British author who has written non-fiction works delving into everything from the history of AIDS in Britain, to the attitudes of the British during and after WW2. He's a splendid writer who concentrates on - shall we say - somewhat "quirky" topics. Case in point is his current book on fonts (or founts, as they used to be called).

Fonts came into being with the invention of the printing press in the late 15th century. It is shocking to realise that the printing of books for the masses has only existed for a fraction of man's existence. Books are such an integral of our lives that its amazing to think only 600 years ago books were owned only by the very wealthy or religious orders.

Garfield traces the history of fonts from their earliest days, paying special attention to those which we're most familiar with - Helvetica, Gill Sans, Arial, and Akzidenz Grotesk (a favorite of mine, if only for the name). He writes about the artisans behind the lettering, and most interesting, how certain fonts cause emotional responses in the people who view them. Why were some fonts popular for hundreds of years, only to fall from favor? How do fonts determine what consumers buy and what they don't buy? And how boring our lives would be if everything was printed in the same font.

Garfield has a lively writing style and is never boring. He gives a very good reference section at the back of the book, which is very helpful to those readers who want to know more.

By the way, if you're reading this, then be sure to read the review by Rob Hardy in this section. His long and interesting review is spot on - he's a reviewer's reviewer - and Rob's are the gold standard of reviews.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Annie G. on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I hope the (deservedly enthusiastic) reviews here from various "font geeks" will not lead general readers to believe this book is mostly for graphic arts specialists. I'm someone who generally pays more attention to what words have to say than how the letters are formed, and yet I found this to be one of the most enjoyable books I've read in years. Might have something to do with the author being from the UK, where clever writing is clearly emphasized and appreciated. For sheer writing quality, and therefore reading pleasure, it was an actual page-turner. To say nothing of the fun of the many short "Fontbreak" chapters and the witty visual samples and captions interspersed throughout (a good reason for buying the print version).
As I've previously found with works by Malcolm Gladwell & Atul Gawande, Simon Garfield's book was both fun to read an intellectually gratifying in its combination of light-touch prose and eye-opening history. It's not exaggerating to say this book has changed my whole perception of the reading experience from both a tactile and an historical point of view. Indeed it changes my visual appreciation of the world OUTSIDE of books in a way that hasn't happened since my sitting through two semesters of The History of Western Art in college! Immersed while on the crosstown bus, I found myself lifting my eyes to examine every awning I passed, wondering what is that font, how old is it, who chose it for this store or billboard, etc. etc.
Per Janet Maslin's rave in the New York Times, I really hope JUST MY TYPE becomes a surprise hit like Lynne Truss's EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES -- and for the same word-loving audience, not just (excuse the pun) graphic design types. It deserves it.
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