historically popular font styles per region for non-fiction books?

Bryan Rasmussen's picture

Does anyone know of a resource that could be used to determine the popular fonts for books, particularly non-fictional books, in a particular region, for example a particular country, for particular dates? The typogeography of europe map is something like that, but I of course need a timeline on font popularity.

If not how would you go about discovering this information?

I am thinking particularly of historically popular fonts in Denmark.
I do not need a 100% accurate result...a result that tells me that a particular font was likely high in popularity at a given date would be adequate.

Dates might be as far back as the 1750s to today.

Karl Stange's picture

You might find that the only way to gather this information is through solid research, starting somewhere like the The Royal Library.

Nick Shinn's picture

Do you mean popular in a lot of Danish non-fiction books, or popular in popular Danish non-fiction books?

Would that be popularity as measured by number of books printed, or by the number read?

How does the number of editions factor into this?

For titles or body text?

You see, I don’t think it is possible to accurately answer such questions.
The usual method is to accept the opinion of an expert, which is little better than anecdote, IMO.

JamesM's picture

Over 12,000 books were published in Denmark in 1996 (the latest year the article had stats for), so I doubt if anyone is keeping track of overall font usage. But perhaps if you contacted some of the major publishers, you might find someone willing to give some guidance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_published_per_country_per_year

quadibloc's picture

In the English-speaking world, non-fiction typography, depending on what field one is looking at, has tended to be dull, at least at some levels.

Today, almost everything is in Times Roman. Yesterday, science textbooks were overwhelmingly in Modern series 7 because of the availability of mathematical symbols from Monotype in that typeface. And if you go back to the 18th Century, Caslon was used for just about everything.

Of course, if you go to non-fiction books for which a huge popular sale is anticipated, more will be invested in the typography. Times Roman is still quite likely, but you could get Baskerville, you could get Palatino... or you could even get Optima or Univers, particularly if the book is concerned with the arts rather than the sciences.

Caledonia and Century Expanded are more likely to be found as alternatives to Times Roman for works of fiction, although they're used for non-fiction as well.

But there isn't enough effort expended on a more diverse range of typefaces in huge swaths of the book publishing industry. Magazines, as vehicles for advertising, receive more attention in this regard.

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