Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: Dot Font Talking About Fonts

Dot Font Talking About Fonts is a collection of essays culled from, the website run by John D Berry, the author. The essays focus on typography, design, fonts, their creators, and a good measure of history on the subject, of which he has prolific knowledge.

I've been reading a lot about typography lately, mostly related to the subject of eBooks and eReaders. I beleive they are going to usher in a whole new era in digital typography, and thought it wise to start versing myself in some of the challenges there.

The book offers a great deal, but also disappoints on a couple fronts. Here are the pros/cons and also an interesting games-related takeaway:

Pro: As I said the author's knowledge and respect for the art of typography are top notch. So he's able to draw connections across time and continents to show how modern day type developments have roots going back hundreds of years.

Pro: I learned a ton about nuances of type design, including things like ascenders and descenders, ears, swelled strokes, and light traps, where previously I knew only what a serif was.

Pro: I learned about some of the challenges and resulting compromises made to type designs because they had to adhere to multiple technology platforms (e.g. Sabon was a font commissioned to work in hand-set type systems as well as linotype and monotype hot metal printing systems). there are some parallels to draw with multi-platform games today.

Con: As a neophyte, I might have done better with an introductory text vs this series of expert columns.

Con: The editing done in assembling the book was not top notch. For example, there are reference numbers on occasion with no references. Additionally, Some of the illustrations taken from his column, when shrunk to the size for this small book, are hard to see. Bring a magnifiying glass.

If you are interested in this subject and already somewhat well versed on it and want to go deeper, this book may be for you. Otherwise go with a more structured text.

Dot Font Talking About Fonts

One last note related to games: The author talks about a challenge they had when the industry was granting awards for font designs, when increasing numbers of submissions were just remakes of fonts that'd been culled from some 200 year old italian manuscript, etc. The design was not the submitor's and yet substantial challenge lay in adapting these to the new digital technologies. They created a new category and dubbed it 'font revival'. Anyhow, struck me as similar to some of the discussion about game remakes, sequels, etc. Food for thought.

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