serif face for book text (like Absara/Dolly/Karmina)

pfm's picture

I am close to having to decide what face to use for an upcoming book project. The project has one or two unique requirements. It is about 85,000 words, and will also contain about 25% illustrations/photos/designs--i.e. text will be broken up and it will be unusual to have more than 3 pages in a row consisting solely of text. It will be printed on a book printing web offset press (as opposed to standard web) on high-quality book paper.

About 35-40% of the text will be printed in a dark-red ink like Pantone 186 or 193 (the rest in black). Because of this I want a font that is low in contrast, and dark, as I am trying to minimize the 'pinking' of the red ink on thinner letterforms.

I am also looking for a tone that is contemporary and cold (or perhaps more appropriately, austere). I also prefer a fully expanded OT font, simply for utility and ease of layout in InDesign. I will be setting at around 10/12.

Right now my current choice is FF Absara, but I have some concerns, and their rather extremely limited specimen PDF is worthless. Has anyone used this to set a large work of text? I am concerned about it being just a bit too busy for such a long work. I am also concerned about readability, though I have read some opinions that say this is not a concern. It also seems to be an extra wide font, but it's hard to tell without being able to actually use it. I'd love to hear from people with experience setting Absara.

I considered Dolly, but in the end decided it was too warm for this book, and lacking an OT format. I am still considering Karmina from Typetogether as a possibility.

Can anyone please, please recommend some similar faces and/or share the experiences and opinions about these fonts?

Thanks so much for your help,


monarchgg's picture

try Melior by Linotype or Freight Micro. I use on long bodies of text in a magazine.

pfm's picture

Thanks for the suggestions monarchgg. Sadly, Melior has too much contrast and Freight Micro is too playful and the italics are just too . . . wacky.

Eyehawk's picture

I would suggest that Pantone 186 is a bit too bright for text, if they are printing on white stock. Tell them to go to the 193. Bright type will wear the eye our quickly. The darker the better.

Eyehawk's picture

I would suggest that Pantone 186 is a bit too bright for text, if they are printing on white stock. Tell them to go to the 193. Bright type will wear the eye our quickly. The darker the better.

Eyehawk's picture

Also, don't forget, reading is a strain to the eye, anyway, so concider the consequences when using type. The easier it is to read, the more successful the sell. Understand easy and readable type when doing a lot of it. Just look at the books you have around your house.

You may change your mind.

MHSmith's picture

How about something like Carter's Charter or Unger's Oranda?

pfm's picture

Eyehawk, thanks for the input about the color, i was leaning towards 193 for that very reason and you have helped push me even further in that direction. I will actually be flying half-way across the country to do a press-check JUST to make sure that the red looks right before printing 6,000 books. And yes, I agree easily readable type is hugely important, hence my post here and all my questions about Absara.

MHSmith, thanks for the suggestions! Charter has a little too much contrast for this job but Oranda certainly looks like a good possibility. SAdly they don't have an OT version, so thats a strike against it.

thanks! pfm

MHSmith's picture

Yes they do, both of them. Check them out again at MyFonts.

lapiak's picture

Another possibility could be ITC Mendoza Roman.

Gary Long's picture

I've used Filosofia from Emigre in a number of books where I wanted a cooler rather than warmer look. It's based on Bodoni. I liked the result on coated stock. It is relatively low contrast and is available in OT. The italic is very readable too. Drawback: Emigre's refusal to allow embedding in pdf's.

causedby's picture

any thought of using 'the serif'

has been used quite a bit, but for a good reason, cause its such a nice face and such a broad family to use as well. you have

SharQ's picture

Why not choose Caecilia?

MHSmith's picture

Or Chaparral? (nicely used by Bringhurst in The Solid Form of Language). But I do like Mendoza too. And I will always stand in awe of Dolly, OT or no OT.

poms's picture

Buy and try – Absara (serif) regular and italic. This is the very best typeface of Dupré in my opinion. Maybe you get Problems with the "E" and the "F" but it depends on how small it is printed and on what kind of paper.
Subjectiv – i adore it, it's a strong one.
Caecilia is a good, relatively calm, easy to work with, friendly – but not to friendly! – slab serif. Quite readable in small sizes, very versatile if you want "some obvious style".

>OT or not OT

… smiling

the best, poms

.00's picture

Our Alfon has been used in number of books to great success. One designer called it "muscular"

Lots of OpenType features in there.


domdib's picture

Mendoza is certainly "austere", if that's what you're looking for. Presumably you have Bringhurst's Elements? Look at p.108 (vers 3.1) for a nice sample of 10/13 Mendoza. Another low contrast possibility is Scala.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Tyfa has the same effect. I guess I'd call it muscular too. It sits straight up on the paper and remains crisp. (I've been using it for a book series and the client finally told me they don't know if they like it anymore. But we'll see.)

mondoB's picture

Absara looks like very small potatoes next to FF Scala, a real star that works superbly everywhere. Also, Bitstream Iowan, now available with oldstyle figures in a separate bundle, very warm and yet very clear, and not yet discovered. Quadraat and Eric Gill's Aries are worth considering. In the Adobe OpenType collection, take a look at Chaparral, Dante, Electra, and Giovanni. And though it offers higher contrast, Warnock is a really distinguished new option for all of us.

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