Typeface for a book

anonymous's picture

I'm doing the layout for a book, and since I normally work with newspaperdesign I feel like I'm suddenly a bit out of my depth, when it comes to the typography for a book.

I could really use any suggestions or hints when it comes to selecting a typeface for the text.

The book is an historical novel set in Germany during the Thirty Years War. Not some textbook on European history, but rather an adventure-story that happens to take place in an historical setting (somewhat like C.S. Foresters "Hornblower").

I've looked at what feels like a million possible fonts, and of those I've checked out so far I'm leaning towards Adobe Jenson Pro. Maybe.

Any other suggestions would be much appreciated.

Bjorn

aquatoad's picture

I've often admired Adobe Jenson in book settings. What are some specifics why you (Hrant or others) wouldn't use it?

hrant's picture

Jenson was the man (Aldus was a poser), and most Jensons (except those with large x-heights) are wonderful, especially for book work. But:
1) You want something that amplifies the topic, and a Jenson seems too Italian Renaissance here.
2) What makes a font [nominally] good for a book is mostly technical, like proper vertical proportions - and a bunch of fonts have what it takes, so the one you choose should have a good reason to be used. What's Jenson's?

My first choice would actually be something with blackletter overtones, but it's hard to:
1) Find one subtle enough to really work. This is actually something on my back-burner (actually my battery of back-burners).
2) Get publishers to accept such a choice.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW, Bjorn, what's your titling font?
I would -yet again- recommend Weltin's Yellow, although I'm not sure how one would acquire it.
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/Yellow_bn.gif

hhp

aquatoad's picture

Ahhh. Amplification of the text. Pretty subtle stuff for the average Barnes & Noble browser.

The reason it piqued my interest: I've got a medium rare bookish jenson in the oven, arrighi in the broiler and some special sauce on the front burner. IMHO, all lovers of type need to have a wrestling match with jenson.

Back to the topic at hand:
ITC Garamond? :-)
I've often wondered about Classica (pdf) in extended text setting.
The Classica Prestige (pdf) extension is delectible.

Randy

hrant's picture

> Pretty subtle stuff for the average Barnes & Noble browser.

Not their consciousness, mind you! But what's underneath.

> ITC Garamond? :-)

The lack of a winkie on that smilie means I'm coming over with my scythe.

hhp

hrant's picture

I'm actually not a huge stickler for historical accuracy in design.
The Kis stuff is indeed from the late 17th century, but mostly it just feels right*, a bit old and with that continental elegance - but there could be a recent font that's even better, maybe one of Storm's more docile designs.

* Although some would say that's only because it's in fact from the same period/geography! For one thing, Kis's stuff is certainly Dutch-looking (I mean the style that Caslon sprung from), and that's because he went to the Netherlands (from Hungary) to study under the leading Dutch master, Voskens (who only agreed to teach him because he knew Kis would be going back home at the end).

> Bitstream Kis

If you look at the stuff on Myfonts* you'll see that the Bitstream cut is frankly the least suitable here... :-(
It lacks the sharpness and narrowness that I think makes Ehrhard promising. Plus there's only one weight. In fact, considering all the extras of Linotype Janson (like old-style numerals), I might recommend that instead (even thought the caps are much tamed compared to Ehrhard).

* http://www.myfonts.com/Search?searchtext=kis

As for the choice for display, If you go with a Kis, I'm thinking Big Caslon:
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/fontbureau/big-caslon/

hhp

hrant's picture

> there's a whole hell of a lot I have yet to learn regarding the subtleties of typography

To be fair, this is all very subjective, and I can't (and frankly wouldn't want to) pretend that my opinions represent some sort of benchmark (that would actually be pretty funny). Formally, Bitstream Kis is certainly "mellower" than Ehrhard*, but it's hard to firmly believe which you need more here. My feeling (not much more) is that you need something sharp, elegant and a touch archaic.

*
Compare these two:
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/bitstream/kis/kis/testdrive.html?s=Regal&p=96
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/ehrhardt/mt/testdrive.html?s=Regal&p=96
One important thing MyFonts won't be able to show you though is typographic texture.

hhp

mncz's picture

I currently am trying to figure out the same problem. I have to layout a book which is a scientific/environmental study of special rocks/stones found in this country. It would be my first book, I've been designing only magazines this far, so it got me wondering, how much and whether the typeface of the book must reflect the topic and by which means it is achievable. I understand that when typesetting novels, it's mostly about the time and style in which they were written, but what to do when it comes to science/math/physics etc.? Is there a reading on "how to choose the right typeface for a book" topic or the only way to understand it is by collecting knowledge scraps from you folks?

hrant's picture

Generally, the longer the text, the less expressive the type needs to be.
So a book face can -and should- still amplify the topic, but much more subtley.

hhp

Dan Weaver's picture

I agree with Hrant, don't let the font style for the book interfer with the content. Play with the cover design and maybe the chapter headings and don't let the text even be noticed by the average reader.

anonymous's picture

Thanks for the help, much appreciated.

Ehrhardt certainly looks like a possibility.

I kept thinking in terms of finding a font that fits with the dramatic flavor of the book (though how to find a font that says 'historical action-packed adventure' I don't know).

To instead use a font that fits geographically and chronologically is appealing in some way. As I understand it the style of the Ehrhardt font hails from mid-17th century Netherlands, yes? That's practically a perfect fit, so a Kis of some kind would be the way to go.

Is the Ehrhardt particularly superior in some way, though? As it happens, my temporary employer already owns Bitstream Kis, which, to my eye, look pretty similar to Ehrhardt anyway. (Of course, buying a couple of new fonts is no obstacle at all, just wondering.)

As for titling font, I haven't considered it yet. I figured I'd choose text font first and work from there.

Bjorn

anonymous's picture

Oh, sure, I didn't mean to imply that there's a pressing need to be completely historically accurate here, but when the Kis style was very nice looking and also just happened to be from the right period/place then it... well, just felt right for the job.


quote:

If you look at the stuff on Myfonts* you'll see that the Bitstream cut is frankly the least suitable here... :-(
It lacks the sharpness and narrowness that I think makes Ehrhard promising.



Really? Huh. I'm thinking there's a whole hell of a lot I have yet to learn regarding the subtleties of typography, since I only see minor differences, but I'll take your word for it (being a newspaper layout man I'm used to working with a predetermined set of a few fonts and very little room for straying from them, hence my inexperience in these matters).

Anyway, thanks for your input.

/Bjorn

hrant's picture

I would use a Kis (AKA Janson), like Ehrhardt:
http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/ehrhardt/

hhp

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