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ktinkel
11-19-2005, 02:00 PM
I got all excited when I saw what appeared to be a new edition of the extremely useful Rookledge’s Classic International Typefinder (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1856694062/104-4067110-5632724?v=glance&n=283155&v=glance) and when I found it for $23 from Amazon, ordered a copy. I of course hoped to find that some of the thousands of fonts released since the first (1983) and second (1993) editions had been included.

I should have read more carefully. Just because the name changed (the “Classic” is new), and so did the cover (very snazzy and contemporary looking — but you can read the title on the spine), and just because a cover line said “revised by Phil Baines,” I still should have noted that this is the 1993 update in new garb. So far as I can tell, not a single detail of the content has changed. They did change the index a bit and deleted some entries from the bibliography, but I could discern no substantive differences.

Amazon did this to me before: a year or so ago they listed (and still do list) a “fifth edition” of Encyclopedia of Typefaces (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1856694062/104-4067110-5632724?v=glance&n=283155&v=glance) by Jaspert, Berry, & Johnson. It was actually a reprint of the well-known and indispensible fourth edition. (I was surprised that anyone would undertake to update that major work, but hope springs eternal.)

Bottom line: If you lack either of these books, do buy these reprints. The Encyclopedia is a goldmine of typographic lore (for fonts released before 1970); and Rookledge’s is an excellent starting point in identifying fonts (so long as they were released prior to 1980 or so). In fact, the earmarks section is useful for studying the details of type (even if they do not lead you to exemplars).

But don’t believe everything you read on Amazon!

Michael Rowley
11-19-2005, 04:06 PM
KT:

But don’t believe everything you read on Amazon!

I've only just realized that Amazon seldom (if ever) gives information about which edition of a book it is offering, or if it's a reprint. That may be understandable, but still shoddy.

By the way, Judith Butcher's book on copy editing, referred to in New Hart's Rules as the 4th ed. 2006, isn't announced (by Amazon), but it is likely to be on its way. It may be interesting, since a lot has changed in publishing since the 3rd ed. was published.

marlene
12-06-2005, 05:44 PM
I got all excited when I saw what appeared to be a new edition of the extremely useful Rookledge?s Classic International Typefinder

How did I miss this thread?? Oh, yeah, my mom was visiting. <g>

Although it's a bummer that the Rookledge has not been updated, it's great that it's being reprinted. I searched for a copy for years and years, until I scored one in spring of 2001 from an online bookseller in the Netherlands.

Apparently the Rookledge was still on my wish list at another online used bookstore, which notified me in September that "Rook" was now available. I checked, out of curiosity, and it was actually a movie on DVD called "The Rook."

I guess my wish list was so old, they figured I'd jump at anything with "Rook" in the title. <g>

Anyway, I really wish there were a newer type identifier, but I suppose nobody wants to tackle such a project, what with the billions and billions of new typefaces being generated every five minutes.

mxh

ktinkel
12-07-2005, 06:45 AM
Although it's a bummer that the Rookledge has not been updated, it's great that it's being reprinted. True enough. Bringing it up to the present would be a enormous task.

And in fact, you probably wouldn’t want to include every font, just those with staying power. Making that sort of judgment at this early date would be close to impossible. So guess we will have to soldier on without such a thing.

dthomsen8
12-08-2005, 06:02 AM
Since the IBM PC (8088) came out in the 1980's, PC computer fonts are all more recent than 1980. I would suspect that there are a great many new fonts widely in use on computers that didn't exist until fairly recently.

ktinkel
12-08-2005, 07:56 AM
Since the IBM PC (8088) came out in the 1980's, PC computer fonts are all more recent than 1980. I would suspect that there are a great many new fonts widely in use on computers that didn't exist until fairly recently.That is why we are lamenting that this book has not been updated. Unfortunately, no one is equipped to keep up with the outpouring of fonts these days (many of which are likely to sink without a trace — or at least, have no general interest — within a few years; but we of course do not know which ones).

But the rapid increase in fonts has little to do with the IBM PC (which had no ability to use real typographic fonts until Windows 3). The fonts computer users have today are those that used to be relegated to the typesetting business, and new designs continue to come out, at a faster pace than in the decades before typesetting moved to the computer desktop.

This is mainly because type design and font production also moved to the desktop. What used to take a fairly sizable work group to do (create a font family) can be done by an individual working alone. The marketing, which also used to require a large force, is also easier.

That much effort and expense made sense before 1986 or so because fonts worked on only one brand of typesetting equipment that cost tens of thousands of dollars — font companies had a captive market, and fonts were the carrot that kept users tied to a particular system. A font typically cost $2,000 or more in the 1970s, and the typographer/customer then had to customize it, something that usually took two or more working days.

I do not know how many fonts there are today, but it must be more than 100,000 (conservatively). That is a many-fold increase over the commercial fonts available in 1980, which is why Rookledge’s TypeFinder stands locked in time.

Michael Rowley
12-08-2005, 09:13 AM
KT:

I do not know how many fonts there are today, but it must be more than 100,000 (conservatively)

But surprisingly few are used by book publishers, and not a lot more even by advertising people (who, I suppose, account for all those sans serif faces in the monthly top-selling lists). For books, Meridien and Minion are the newest I have seen identified in a book in English; some of the sans faces used in the same books are weird though (which probably makes them attractive for a certain kind of typographer).

ktinkel
12-08-2005, 12:19 PM
But surprisingly few [fonts] are used by book publishers, and not a lot more even by advertising people …Oh, I disagree. I have seen several of the Dutch faces in books recently: Renard, Scala Serif, Swift; Matthew Carter’s Miller; and some of the newer Adobe fonts, including Jenson and Adobe Garamond (not new, really, but newer than Rookledge’s).

As for advertising, it is extremely experimental, here at least. Lots of sans, especially Meta and its near clones; these are also very popular in corporate typesetting (annual reports as well as brochures and advertising).

There are many more fonts omitted from Rookledge’s than included. Of pre-1980 fonts, Linotype is well represented, as is Monotype; ITC fared pretty well (but not Letraset). Berthold is shockingly under-represented. And then of course, there were quite a few new designs in the pre-desktop digital period, and these are not included either, including faces by Zapf (Mr and Mrs), Frutiger, Carter, and more.

Anyway, no sense beating a dead horse. I was disappointed but not really surprised. Updating such a work would be a monumental effort.

Michael Rowley
12-08-2005, 01:08 PM
KT:

Matthew Carter’s Miller

I forgot that! Perhaps it's the books I read that are conservative, but publishers don't seem to use more faces now than they did in 1950—and many of the old favorites are still favorites. And several of the faces you mention as 'new' (e.g. Jenson, Garamond) are reworkings of old typefaces.

I don't think it would be such an enormous task to cite the more popular typefaces used now as you suggest, although anything that was intended to be comprehensive would be out of the question. Compiling such a book (voluminous, but not comprehensive) would be a nice occupation for a retired typographer . . .

ktinkel
12-08-2005, 01:35 PM
And several of the faces you mention as 'new' (e.g. Jenson, Garamond) are reworkings of old typefaces.They are distinctly new fonts, which is what Rookledge’s (and indeed the type industry) deals with.

Compiling such a book (voluminous, but not comprehensive) would be a nice occupation for a retired typographer . . .I am pretty sure you underestimate the scope of the work. How would you select the voluminous though not comprehensive set of fonts to cover? Pick names out of a hat? <g>

Michael Rowley
12-08-2005, 02:27 PM
KT:

Pick names out of a hat?

I would hope that a retired typographer would have the nous to think of a more reliable procedure.

One method would be to ask the purveyors of fonts; another would be to ask the preferences of publishers. I should say that when you had got enough fonts to fill a fat volume, that would be the time to stop counting. You could also confine your studies to, say, fonts marketed before 2000; then you could publish supplements for 2001–2010, 2011–20, and so on, until you're dead or senile. You could have endless fun too inventing classifications.

ktinkel
12-08-2005, 05:11 PM
I would hope that a retired typographer would have the nous to think of a more reliable procedure.

One method would be to ask the purveyors of fonts; another would be to ask the preferences of publishers. I should say that when you had got enough fonts to fill a fat volume, that would be the time to stop counting. You could also confine your studies to, say, fonts marketed before 2000; then you could publish supplements for 2001–2010, 2011–20, and so on, until you're dead or senile. You could have endless fun too inventing classifications.Tell you what — let us know how it goes.

Michael Rowley
12-09-2005, 01:28 PM
KT:

Tell you what — let us know how it goes

I shouldn't attempt an update, for I don't profess to be a typographer.

The original 'Rookledge', published in 1983, has only been updated to 1990 by Baines, and the revised book is said to contain only 700 typefaces: therefore (a) there's need for further updating, and (b) the difficulties are not insurmountable.

donmcc
12-09-2005, 07:31 PM
Do you feel that Rookledge was supposed to be a comprehensive type guide? I think of it more as a tutorial book explaining the art of typeface recognition, and the faces listed are merely representative of the principles it teaches.

I find it great for that purpose, and completely fulfilling.

Don McCahill

Mike
12-10-2005, 01:36 AM
I've only just realized that Amazon seldom (if ever) gives information about which edition of a book it is offering, or if it's a reprint. That may be understandable, but still shoddy.


The answer is to send it back if it's not the edition you want (or thought you wanted). Amazon UK have a pretty liberal returns policy -- return any book within 14 days and, if you give the right reasons, they'll pay the postage.