Book Review: Typography by F. Friedl

Too overwhelming (and too heavy)

The German publishers Konemann always produced fascinating books, the company was started in 1993 but went bust in 2003, the German Tandem picked up the assets. This very thick, chunky (and heavy at 7.3 pounds ) book was very typical of the companies output: highly illustrated and mostly sold in discount bookstores.

With this title though I think they came a bit unstuck. It's not only the thickness and weight but more importantly the biographic information is rather basic and brief. Perhaps only to be expected when 700 entries are included with 2000 images in 592 pages. The text in three languages is another problem: it takes up a lot of space so a spread is the equivalent of a page of images and a page of text. Each spread has the same format, a central area for graphics, German across the top six columns, English across the bottom six and a column of French on the outside of the left and right-hand pages. Annoyingly the graphics have captions in five point though they only say the designer's name, date and what the item is: cover; poster; spread; logo; typeface et cetera.

'Typo' has a subdeck of When, Who, How and I liked the first section When, over eighty-one pages, which looks at the history of type and design and nicely, with a break with tradition it starts today (or rather when it was published in 1998) and works backwards to cuneiform and pictograms in 3000-1700BC. The illustrations for this type history section are first class. The main section: Who with biographies of type and graphic designers, magazines, institutions and type foundries has the usual problem of who to include and leave out. With hundreds of entries very few would seem to be left out but why no Corita Kent, James Miho and amazingly no Otto Storch. The last section: How, seems a bit of an anti-climax, just fourteen pages covering the historical origins of type up to computer setting. Oddly there are no illustrations on these pages.

'Typo' certainly has plenty of worthwhile illustrations to look at but I thought the book just too unwieldy for regular use. Design colleges and similar establishments would probably get the best out of the contents.

Typography is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Typography by F. Friedl
It's B-I-G and heavy.

Typography by F. Friedl
Imprint and Contents page.

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl

Typography by F. Friedl
A spread from the How section and no illustrations.

Typography by F. Friedl
Despite an A to Z format in the main section there is a useful index at the back.

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