New Book, "Designing Typefaces"

hrant's picture

David Earls has a book out, and it seems tantalizing. I'm anticipating buying it, but wanted to know what people think about it first.


Stephen Coles's picture

First thought: the publisher will lose him a lot
of sales by insisting on that horrid cover. I
weep for David.

Miss Tiffany's picture

The judges will be out until I can take a look inside. Based on the cover ... well it won't be in my top ten. ;¬)

plainclothes's picture

for those who have not yet caught the new digest, this is from his site:

A collection of interviews discussing type design with Matthew Carter, Jonathan Hoefler, Erik Spiekermann, Akira Kobayashi, Zuzana Licko, Jean-Francois Porchez, Carlos Segura, Jeremy Tankard, Erik van Blokland, Rian Hughes and Jonathan Barnbrook. I disown that cover.

note that last sentence -- nobody likes the damn thing. however, judging by the interviewees, it should be a useful contribution to any typographer's library.

tamye's picture

Unfortunately, publishers often have a very different idea of what makes a good cover, compared to those of us who buy and/or create books like these. I feel for David on the cover issue - I've been in his helpless shoes in that regard. But the guts of the book sound promising, and should prove well worth ignoring the less-than-lovely exterior.

sevenfingers's picture

ohhh... looks nice.... content wise.
I have a habit of redesigning most of the covers on books I buy. This seems like a likely participant in such a move.

porky's picture

Honest appraisal from the author:

The introduction is self-absorbed and self-indulgent. Sorry. The cover is horrible, and I told my editor that countless times. Its ugliness is compounded by the fact that, amazingly, the repro house screwed up the alignment of some of the glyphs moments before going to print. If you buy the book, burn the dust jacket and send me a photo of the flames. Please.

The main bulk of the book comprises of the interviews, however. There are some good chapters and some bad chapters, as you might expect from a first-time and inexperienced author, and from the range of those interviewed. Matthew Carter had some great things to say, based on a long and immensely enjoyable phone conversation with him, for example, and Jonathan Hoefler had some very valuable things indeed to share on the subject.

The interviews are accompanied by examples of the designers work, both straight typeface design and graphic design, and where possible there are early developmental examples to illustrate a typeface's progression. Jeremy Tankard's and Erik Spiekermann's early development work, both for typeface and typographic design, spring to mind as particularly strong examples.

One thing that pleased me was the diversity of approaches from all the designers, mainly due to their different age ranges and cultural backgrounds, and I think this has been reflected in the book. Its non-prescriptive as a result.

Anyhow. Its ok. I'm not Robert Bringhurst.

One final point - the book is primarily aimed at students and designers in the early part of their careers, and the text will naturally reflect this. The tutorial bit, for example, is aimed at those VERY early on in their type design career, so dont beat me too hard on that one.

That said, there is plenty in the body of the book to be of interest to those further along in their hopefully lifelong studies.

hrant's picture

(And keep it up!)


Miss Tiffany's picture

So I'm embarassed.


David, is there any chance of seeing the table of
contents and/or the index?? I always like it when
Amazon has a peek inside the book.

porky's picture

Contents? Hmmm, its broken down as follows:

Introduction - p6

Designer Profiles:
Jonathan Hoefler - p12
Jonathan Barnbrook - p24
Akira Kobayashi - p36
Zuzana Licko - p48
Jean-Francois Porchez - p60
Rian Hughes - p72
Carlos Segura - p84
Erik Spiekermann - p96
Jeremy Tankard - p108
Matthew Carter - p120
Erik van Blokland - p132

Type Tutorial:
Starting Off - p146
The Tools - p148
The Basics - p150
Building and Refining - p153
Releasing - p156

Glossary - p158

The format of each designer's chapter is around 4 or 5 pages of text, followed by 7 or 8 pages of visual material with extended captioning.

Stephen Coles's picture

Wow. That's enough for me. To the bookshop!

David tells me that the interviews discuss each
designer's process in designing type - something
that I don't think has been well documented
before. I'm excited to see the result.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Thank you David ... it will be added to my wish list.

hrant's picture

> I don't think has been well documented before.

I only know of one good place:
Allan Haley's "Hot Designers Make Cool Fonts".


Stephen Coles's picture

Ah, yes. While David's book suffers from a cover unworthy
of its content, Haley's was guilty of an ultra-lame title.

porky's picture

Of course I wanted to call the book "Making Faces", and had a big fat loving closeup of a tongue with a chunk of metal type shoved through the hole left by a piercing.

beejay's picture

David, congratulations. I'll join the mad rush to the bookstore...any idea where we can walk in and buy it here in the States.


seanmichael's picture

Yesterday the availablity was in stock and ready for 24 hour shipment. Same day in NY. Things change I guess. I got one. Early bird gets the worm.

porky's picture

I'm not really sure where to get it from outside of the UK to be honest, bj.

jordy's picture

I'm trying to get a copy through New York - look forward to seeing it soon

Jordan Davies

jordy's picture

My brother is sending me a copy of David Earls' book from his store in NY City, Soho. He sells books about graphic design and he loves the book, doesn't like the cover. (Seems that sentiment is unanimous.) Since he has to sell the books to make a living, I think his opinion is important but I will put in my 2 cents when I get it.

sean's picture

I got the book about two weeks ago from B&N in NY. Overall I like it. I think David Earls was pretty on tap and honest with his assessment of the book. It can easily be read in a day.

I like the introduction. Self-absorbed? I don

andrea's picture

I just got a looky-loo at David's book. The cover is beautiful! I was expecting something that looked like "Looking Closer" series.... now those I have to hide.

I used to work for a man who had been student of Paul Rand. One day he was showing me a work of Mueller-Brockmann's and excitedly said, "pink! it's the most hideous color in the history of the world, yet here it becomes elegant."

David, ya made pink elegant. Can't wait to read it.

porky's picture

Wow, someone who likes the cover! Just goes to show, one man's meat is another man's poison. Or something.

jfp's picture

Does this sound funny? I don

porky's picture

Having spoken to the publisher today, it appears that the book is published in the UK and distributed here and in the USA. Availability in non-English-speaking countries is therefore very much up to individual stores or chains, apparently. I guess there is always Amazon.

In the meantime, contributors, if they have yet to receive their copies, should be receiving them this week, though it is dependant on international postal services as to exactly when.

jordy's picture

Got my copy of Designing Typefaces 2 days ago - very enjoyable and well-done interviews, all of them. Wonderful examples of work done by the designers, from development to finished design.The cover is not great but I get the point. Everyone seriously interested in type development and design should own this.
Jordan Davies

jfp's picture

Finally I

wasabi's picture

I'm joining you guys... Where in Australia can I buy the book?


anonymous's picture

Hey David - do I get a copy? : )

Jem's picture

"Where in Australia can I buy the book?"

Syndicate content Syndicate content