Typeface for a book series of utopian novels

Cuboctaedro's picture

Hi everybody,

I am designing a book series of utopian novels. There will be some classics of the genre and some less known books. Most of the novels are late 19th century but not all. I have to decide on the main typeface that will be used for the text. The texts will be in English with no other language requirements.
The concept of an "utopian" book typeface intrigues me but I have not reached any conclusion yet so I would like some suggestions.

I would prefer to use a relatively new typeface and so give some money to a living designer and not just Adobe. Also a kind of "contemporary" look (whatever that may mean) is part of the brief.

For no particular reason I am drawn to the idea of using something like Joanna...

oldnick's picture

Joanna is a sensible choice, but the italics are rather narrow...not necessarily a deal-breaker.

On the other hand, there is an obvious choice...

http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/adobe/utopia/

bojev's picture

You might look at Iowan Old Style by John Downer from Bitstream.

Thomas Phinney's picture

>> I would prefer to use a relatively new typeface and so give some money to a living designer and not just Adobe. Also a kind of "contemporary" look (whatever that may mean) is part of the brief.

> For no particular reason I am drawn to the idea of using something like Joanna...

Eric Gill has been dead since 1940, and Joanna came out around 1930–31, so that wouldn't work out in terms of money to a living designer, nor in looking contemporary.

Cuboctaedro's picture

Hi Thomas,

Yes, I know that. It also will not do because of the italics. There are some occasional italics in the texts but they need to be much more subtle than Joanna's. Whitman is the classic alternative but then again it does not relate particularly to the concept of utopia, does it?

Utopia makes me think more of timelessness and perfection which clashes a bit with the "contemporary" idea.

Iowan Old Style is a possibility...

One idea was to use Hypatia Sans for titles so the solution could be a serif that works well with Hypatia.

donshottype's picture

1. AFAIK Robert Slimbach, the designer of Utopia -- born in 1956 -- is still a "living designer." I hope he still gets something from his work other than a payment long ago for completing his design for Adobe. But the font business seems to lack anything like the music business system of a levy for every time the song is broadcast.
2. Should a utopian image be a contemporary fad, or a reflection of timeless perfection? I would see contemporary fads as being more appropriate for dystopian visions than utopian ones.
Don

Cuboctaedro's picture

>>Utopia makes me think more of timelessness and perfection
I was referring to the concept of utopia, not the typeface.

This idea of timelessness makes me think of a Garalde, which is a safe solution but does not sound very appropriate historically for late 19th and early 20th century. That's why I think of Whitman-Joanna.

But you seem to think Slimbach's Utopia is a good idea... It is suspiciously obvious...

bojev's picture

Hypatia is a very nice font and would make good contemporary looking titles.

Nick Shinn's picture

William Morris’ News From Nowhere was set in his Golden Type, a Jenson revival of sorts.

But I don’t think that any revival made today is really timeless, referring as it does to its original’s time and place of conception.

Rather, I would say that a new design informed by traditional precepts is less tied to a specific time and place in history.

Therefore I would recommend my own Richler, a “book face” that combines some contemporary principles of readability with elements of the classic old-style or antiqua genre.

http://origin.myfonts.com/s/aw/original/211/0/108166.pdf

charles ellertson's picture

I would prefer to use a relatively new typeface and so give some money to a living designer and not just Adobe. Also a kind of "contemporary" look (whatever that may mean) is part of the brief.

If by "contemporary" you mean letterforms that aren't classical, take a look at Skolar. It's reasonable without being too abysmally clunky

(See http://media.caranddriver.com/images/12q4/492040/2014-gmc-sierra-1500-al... for an ostensive definition of "abysmally clunky")

Huronia has a similar contemporary look, vis a vis letterforms. (Rosetta distributes Huronia, but it is a Tiro Typeworks design.) Both families have Greek, though I'm not competent to judge how good any contemporary Greek font is -- and Huronia had, as of 2012, Greek in the roman only.

http://www.rosettatype.com/Skolar
http://www.rosettatype.com/Huronia

By the way, be careful of fonts with newish letterforms -- IMSLTHO letterforms are less than half of what an effective font is about, unless you're selling a product and need brand identity or some such. General spacing and the way letters fit together is far more important. Of the "contemporary" fonts, the two above at least meet that test.

For no particular reason I am drawn to the idea of using something like Joanna...

Well, except for the fact that it's been described as "so 1990s," Scala is quite reminiscent of Joanna. This, as with so many fonts designed for printing from repro-negative-plate, comes out a bit light with current direct-to-plate printing.

Many examples of this effect, one I'm reading right now (set in Scala) -- Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder's book about Paul Farmer, which any library should have. (See a Random House first edition, any printing.)

Edit -- if the publisher is planing an ebook in a pdf version (unlikely) stick with Adobe fonts, or do some serious checking on EULAs. Aside from Adobe, almost everyone else charges extra for embedding fonts for commercial use, such as a pdf ebook. Been there, got the T-shirt...

Cuboctaedro's picture

Richler is indeed a very good option. It has exactly the quality that I was thinking, of being classic without being very time specific.
Is there a specimen for Greek too? I will not use Greek in this project but being Greek I am obviously very interested in any good Greek typeface (and there are not that many).

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks!
Here is the full Pro Pan European specimen, which includes Greek and Cyrillic:
http://origin.myfonts.com/s/aw/original/211/0/108163.pdf
Sorry, no polytonic, but there are small caps.

Cuboctaedro's picture

Richler it is!
Thank you all very much.
Nick, Richler's Greek is even better than the Latin. I will be using it quite a lot I think. Great work.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Good choice. Richler is, IMO, one of the most interesting new type releases of 2013.

hrant's picture

Yes, I would say it was ahead of its time back when it made. The hardest thing.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks for the compliments!

Thomas Phinney's picture

Belatedly:

Richler seems like a fine choice for this purpose. But thanks for considering my own Hypatia Sans for titles. (I don’t think it would mix well with Richler, though I'd have to see it to be sure.)

Are you going to use Richler for the titles, or something else?

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