Does anyone not much like reading letterpress Bembo?

George Horton's picture

I'm trying to get an idea of the variation in type taste among people who know about it. So, how many of you don't much enjoy reading, let us say, well-printed letterpress Bembo, finding it either unattractive or uncomfortable?

bieler's picture

Hmmm. What's up with Bembo lately?

I've printed several letterpress books with Bembo. I'd like to think they were well printed. Never had a problem with the face except for those related to its metal configuration. It was weak as a metal face in that thin crossbars such as those in the lowercase e would wear out quickly. But then again, Monotype was never meant to be edition printed so why complain.

Unattractive or uncomfortable? What are you kidding? Ever see Mrs Eaves?

George Horton's picture

I only pick Bembo because it's an obvious touchstone. But can everyone really like any one type? I expect it could only be so with a type too old to be unfashionable, but if it can happen at all then there's a consistency, in that subset of typographic judgement that constitutes bibliophile taste, which I don't think exists in any other art or craft.

Nick Shinn's picture

I am so bored with Bembo: letterpress, offset, pixels, whatever.
There is plenty of room for differences in taste among bibliophiles and typophiles, along the usual fault lines.

George Horton's picture

That's one at least; thanks Nick.

Miss Tiffany's picture

George, we're a pretty opinionated bunch. :^D I'd guess the only reason you would get everyone to agree is to pick a typeface by some revered type designer. No one would dare not like it. ;^D

Bembo is a little wide for me. I like it in short blocks of text or for dressier situations.

pattyfab's picture

I go in and out of phase with the classics, including Bembo. But I think it's easy to read which I think is more to the point. And it has a lovely italic.

I try not to be doctrinaire about fonts because they can be so wrong or so right depending on their use. Not that there aren't fonts I will NEVER use (Bookman! anything ITC!). But I do try to keep an open mind.

I for one am sick to death of all the new grotesks, DIN and it's ilk. And publishers like Phaidon who use unreadable fonts for running text thinking it's edgy and cool.

William Berkson's picture

My memory says letterpress Bembo is great, but digital Bembo is blah. I am skeptical about Bembo Book also, but I haven't seen it in print.

dezcom's picture

"I’d guess the only reason you would get everyone to agree is to pick a typeface by some revered type designer. No one would dare not like it."

Well, maybe not complete agreement. I have never liked Palatino and I am sure Zapf qualifies as "revered" by most Typophilers. Yes, we are an opinionated bunch though:-)

ChrisL

George Horton's picture

Yes, I dislike Palatino, and don't get very excited about Galliard or Sabon either.

Nick Shinn's picture

People change. OK, some people change.
I've tried Bembo, and I've had my Palatino/Aldus phase. So put me in the "so many flavours, so little time" camp.

dezcom's picture

“so many flavours, so little time”

Now if you put a scoop of Vanilla Swiss Almond on that Bembo, I might be persuaded to give it another taste :-)

ChrisL

John Hudson's picture

I'm very partial to letterpress Bembo in the context of British commercial printing of the 1930s to 1960s, especially academic books. I've never been very impressed with Bembo in private press and limited edition printing (even when printed by Mardersteig), where the larger sizes are usually used. Bembo is a great commercial bookface, but is somehow too common for the special treatment of fancy papers and bindings. But give me a copy of any OUP scholarly work set in Bembo and its the typographic equivalent of comfort food: not spectacular, but very palatable and pleasing.

George Horton's picture

Interesting, John - I think I agree. Do you have a favourite for the best papers? I was astonished to realise that the extraordinarily beautiful book I was looking at a few days ago was printed in 13 point letterpress Erhardt, a type I never thought capable of such results, but which is apparently transformed on ideal stock.

jupiterboy's picture

I for one am sick to death of all the new grotesks, DIN and it’s ilk. And publishers like Phaidon who use unreadable fonts for running text thinking it’s edgy and cool.

What did you use on the Close catalogue? I thought it was really nice in the wall texts.

typequake's picture

Yes, I dislike Palatino, and don’t get very excited about Galliard or Sabon either.

To me, a good book face should not be exciting. The strength of Sabon is that it works so well without being obtrusive, don't you agree?

dezcom's picture

I like Sabon but find Palatino obtrusive.

ChrisL

typequake's picture

because it's not a book face, is it?

George Horton's picture

The strength of Sabon is that it works so well without being obtrusive, don’t you agree?
Ignoring the problems fixed in Sabon Next, the serifs are too short.

typequake's picture

Too short for your taste, perhaps, but not too short functionally.

pattyfab's picture

James - I used Seria Sans for the Close catalog, I think that's a beautiful face altho the italics are a bit too vertical for me, not easily enough distinguished from the roman.

I like Sabon and have been using it recently because it is elegant and unobtrusive and has the complete expert set. I tend to avoid Palatino because it still to me smacks of the era when there were so few fonts available on the Mac and it was massively overused, along with Copperplate Gothic.

George Horton's picture

Typequake, Sabon's serifs are too short functionally. They don't counteract lateral masking well enough.

typequake's picture

Gee, I've read so many books in Sabon before I learned the first thing about type, and never even noticed that it doesn't function!

George Horton's picture

It's not bad, it's just not perfect. The design looks like it results from thinking about legibility rather than about readability: and legibility was Tschichold's reason for switching to classical typography.

Nick Shinn's picture

One thing I like about Sabon is the equal-width italic. Same with Optima.
It's a value that works in a certain kind of layout. Spacious.
I don't think it's a mistake in a classic serifed face: the scotch romans had the same feature of an italic that took up the same amount of space as the roman.

George Horton's picture

I actually agree on that, wide spacing works with Sabon italic's very restrained, pre-Granjon French Renaissance flavour.

Syndicate content Syndicate content