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Just My Type: A Book About Fonts [Paperback]

Simon Garfield
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 Sep 2011
Just My Type is not just a font book, but a book of stories. About how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. About why Barack Obama opted for Gotham, while Amy Winehouse found her soul in 30s Art Deco. About the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, or people like Neville Brody who threw out the rulebook, or Margaret Calvert, who invented the motorway signs that are used from Watford Gap to Abu Dhabi. About the pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers ... and typefaces became something we realised we all have an opinion about. As the Sunday Times review put it, the book is 'a kind of Eats, Shoots and Leaves for letters, revealing the extent to which fonts are not only shaped by but also define the world in which we live.'

Please note that this book is published with two different jackets - one in black and one in silver. Orders will be allocated on a random basis

Frequently Bought Together

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts + Thinking with Type, Second Revised and Expanded Edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, and Students (Design Briefs) + 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design
Price For All Three: 32.45

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (22 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846683025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846683022
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Garfield was born in London in 1960. He is the author of an appealingly diverse and unpredictable canon of non-fiction, including Mauve, The Nation's Favourite, The End of Innocence and The Wrestling, and has edited three popular collections of diaries from the Mass Observation Archive. His quirky history of fonts, Just My Type, turned out to be a hit, which reassured him that he was not alone in his passions.

His latest book is about maps - a wide-ranging, inquisitive and light-footed examination of how we use maps not only to find our way, but also to express all aspects of our lives - from art and crime to politics and cinema. The book is about exploration in its widest sense, travelling from the Great Library at Alexandria to the home of Google Maps, with cartographic diversions via Birmingham, Antarctica, Melbourne, the Himalayas, the East End of London, New York and the Congo. The book has some big questions too: Can men really read maps better than women? Is there anywhere in the world yet to be mapped? Will sat nav be the ruin of us all?

Garfield has been intrigued by maps since he had to find his way around the London Underground as a young boy, and he has been fascinated by geography ever since he was taught it at school by the former England cricket captain Mike Brearley (although admittedly Brearley mostly knew about India and Australia and other places he'd opened the batting).

Garfield also enjoys Hampstead Heath, cycling, globe-spinning by Presuming Ed, and writing by Tracy Kidder, Nicholson Baker, Bella Bathurst, Bill Bryson and Simon Armitage.

Product Description


'This is a smart, funny, accessible book that does for typography what Truss's 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves' did for punctuation.' --New York Times

'Accessible, informative and often amusing... Copiously illustrated, it's a painless way to develop an appreciation for the subject.' --Herald

'An unexpectedly engrossing read, this is a book that threatens to make font wonks of all of us' --Independent

'Entertaining feast of fonts for graphic geeks and a humorous insight into the fonts dominating print today.' --Times

'Every so often someone writes a book about an obscure subject and uses it to illuminate the rest of the world... this is one of the best.' --William Leith, Evening Standard

'After being walked through these stories, it's difficult to even look at a cereal packet in the same way again...' --Observer

Book Description

Non-fiction Christmas bestseller. Radio 4 Book of the Week

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
122 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fontastic 3 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read a gushing review of this in the DT and was immediately transported back to the late 1970s (1979 I think) when a uni friend of mine gave me his old (c1977-1978) Letraset catalogue (I think I still have it somewhere). I was rather taken aback and impressed by all the different typefaces and even tried to reproduce by hand some Old English names and signs with a Rotring pen (remember those?). Fast forward a few years and there I am doing my final year project surgically removing the lower line of the 'E' because I had run out of 'F's for 'Figure'. So I thought this book would be the sort of minutiae type anal retentive stuff I enjoy reading - and it is!

It could have been such a boring book just talking about some of the more famous 100,000+ typefaces that exist but it isn't - it's a masterpiece. I can't believe that someone could research and write such an excellent book on something that ostensibly is insignificant, and it is only when you read the book the lightbulb comes on and you think how important typefaces, fonts and printing is in your life. This is even truer with the advent of the digital age, as we can easily compare typefaces and fonts on a PC - which is a lot of fun!

I didn't realise (I suppose I should have) just how much effort goes into designing a typeface and the fonts and in a way this book salutes that with its clever (though perhaps obvious) use of the typefaces all the way through - it must have been a nightmare to proof read.

I now know that the delicious typeface on the London Underground is Johnstone Sans and that one of the designers had some very odd sexual leanings!

Also I did find a couple of potential minor errors in the book and wrote to the author who was kind enough to reply - what a good egg (and we agreed that they were minor!).

If you like this type (b'dum tschh) of thing then I can't recommend this book highly enough - it's a real gem.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A whimsical guide to type 22 Oct 2010
As the anarchic cover hints, this isn't a dry history of typopgraphy; the miscellany of stories within build up a picture of font history through a montage of anecdotes. The book uses the lives of typographers, the inspirations for their designs, and the social background to weave a fascinating story.

From the elegant and practical Sabon (first produced for easy typesetting), via the downright criminal Gill Sans (wanted for incest and zoophilia), to the now infamous Comic Sans (wanted for crimes against taste), most of the fonts we use today are touched upon, and a few less well known ones too.

Sadly the fonts we use every day to dress our thoughts often pass unnoticed, and the creators unrewarded - Just my Type lets us know why fonts are so important, and what your choice of font says about the words you have writtten before they have even been read.

There's no neat chronology here, and little to surprise a close student of typography, but as a layperson's introduction to the surprisingly passionate world of typography this book couldn't do better.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Display Fonts, Invisible Fonts, and Font Wars 18 Nov 2010
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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just my type 19 Nov 2010
By Pashtie
It's all about typefaces and fonts. Geeky indeed. It includes a brief history of the printing game, from Guttenburg to Letraset. The book goes off on a tangent about an important font every couple of chapters, giving us a more detailed look at the most widely used (Futura, Optima, Gill Sans). I found the parts on how a different typeface affects business - ie in terms of branding and product perception verrrry interesting (See easyJet [Cooper Black], Ikea [formly used Futura, now Veranda]) It would have be an inert read without hearing the human side to it. There are interviews from important figures (Nevile Brody, and Margaret Calvert for example) and these are worked into the text well. It's poppy, anecdotal, easy to read and of the times, just like font should be, I guess.

Excellent as an introduction to the whole font business, I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled for the books and websites that Garfield mentions in his bibliography.

The first gripe I have with it is easily dismissed - it doesn't go deep enough. [In fact I'll dismiss it myself - it's meant to be light enough so that someone who isn't into the semantics of font can enjoy it, and those of us who need more can, well, go read more.]

Secondly, I'd love it in coffee table book-size. With colour pictures, this could be as good-looking inside as it is on the outside. Font is graphic design, so it seems strange having finished read it, that it isn't big and chunky like other such reference books. Having said that, its format makes it more appealing to pick up in a shop. It's probably just my horrible eyesight speaking, but I'd love if the example fonts and the pictures were a bit bigger. Maybe it'll be really successful and get an update!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good foundation for people getting into typography.
Very educational. Well worth a read and is part of the design studio. Our 10 designers in our studio have all read it. Good foundation for people getting into typography.
Published 4 days ago by Mr Mike Ng
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
an enjoyable informative read
Published 4 days ago by Stuart Carruthers
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories of typefaces and the history of printing in a book; brief, fun...
If, like me, you used to browse Letraset catalogues as a child, then this is the book for you! I have always been fascinated by fonts (or, for the purist, typefaces), but in... Read more
Published 9 days ago by C. M. BYATT
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
This, ladies & gentlemen, is a must have. I didn't get the hardcover one and I deeply regret it. It's such a valuable article to have in one's bookstand. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Frederico R.
2.0 out of 5 stars could have been great.
This is a fun and informative book which is totally ruined on the Kindle because the examples of "type" or "fonts" the book refers to are too small to see to any... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars An alternative Wyspa Skarbow
I'm on my second read of this treasure, sparked this time by a comment from one of the Beatles on the use of a long tee. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Ian Hynd
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 1 month ago by Peter Scrivener
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully narrated, comical yet has a historical reliability - ...
Beautifully narrated, comical yet has a historical reliability - really really pleased with the purchase and review the various chapters of it from time to time.
Published 1 month ago by tmadisson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Nice book. As expected.
Published 1 month ago by Alison
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Super nice and fast, Thanks for the perfect seller and product.
Published 1 month ago by CHIA-JU
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