Blame it on Steve Jobs. As a young man searching for something interesting to study, he audited a calligraphy class at Reed College. Jobs became fascinated with the myriad variety of fonts, a.k.a., typefaces he was exposed to. Ten years later he decided to incorporate an assortment of fonts into Apple's Macintosh computer. It would prove to be a popular addition. When Microsoft's Windows added the feature later, interest in fonts by the general public skyrocketed. And with Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, we now we have an entire book devoted to the subject.
Author Simon Garfield's often hilarious study of all things font-related was initially published in England in 2010, and became a surprise hit. With that in mind, Gotham Books have just published it in the United States.
A major reason for the book's success has to be the quality of Garfield's writing, and the way he makes such a seemingly dry subject come to life. Consider this sentence from a description of the Helvetica font: "On the upper deck, the G has both a horizontal and vertical bar at a right angle, Q has a short straight angled cross-line like a cigarette in an ashtray, and R has a little kicker for its right leg."
The very first font was Gutenberg Textura, introduced with the Gutenberg printing press around 1450. Over the course of the book, the author walks us through the history of printing and type, and it is a lively journey. In so many ways, a government, business, or individual's choice of font creates the de facto first impression.
For example, there is the Comic Sans font. Developed just in time for inclusion with Windows 95, Comic Sans became ubiquitous almost overnight. Just a few years later however, there were people so incensed by it that websites such as Ban Comic Sans sprung up.