After reading a few reviews on amazon.com before purchasing Simon Garfield‘s Just My Type, I had high expectations for the book, expecting it to contain some deep insights into typeface/font construction and into how technology and culture are affecting typefaces. Indeed, the book poses some interesting questions, such as whether a typeface can be German or Jewish, whether the tendency to use the same typefaces over and over again in all situations is negatively affecting our society, and whether different typefaces are needed for different rendering technologies, but in none of these cases does it have enough nearly enough discussion. Instead, it is filled primarily with anecdotes and vignettes about the development of specific typefaces and stories about where they’re used. These were generally amusing and interesting, but rarely left me intellectually satisfied.
The book may be sufficiently engaging and stimulating for somebody with no prior knowledge of typefaces and fonts, but as somebody interested in history and sociology, and as a technologist who has worked on a text rendering engine in the past, the book left me wanting more. What is here is interesting enough, and the book doesn’t take long to read, but like too many pop-non-fiction works out there, isn’t rich enough to recommend.