By our new Fixabook blogger… Ampleforth
This could have turned out a right mess, but in fact it’s brilliant. It communicates one message — “fonts have stories to tell” — with total clarity, while a secondary message — “… and you care about them” — develops slyly in the background.
From a design point of view, setting each font’s name in … er, itself is both obvious and dangerous. The danger is that the reader’s eye is repelled by visual chaos, but that’s avoided in two ways. Firstly, with a bit of restraint: eight different fonts are used, and that’s plenty when they’re as different as Helvetica and Baskerville. Secondly there’s a really nice, and rare, example of the copy actually helping the design. Because the blurb starts with an unexpected and punchy claim — “Just My Type is a book of stories” — then develops its argument in short, rhythmical steps, you’re drawn to carry on reading. And because you’re reading it, rather than just looking at it, each of the fonts plays its part in the argument rather than just sitting there looking messy.
The blurb’s secondary message is beautifully judged. Your interest has been aroused by the font stories mentioned at the start (why did Obama choose Gotham?) now the blurb reminds you what that interest might mean about you: that you care about fonts. It even cutely allows you not to have quite realised that fact up till now, with “… typefaces became something we realised we all have an opinion about”. The subtext is “it’s ok, we were surprised too.”
My only gripe with this blurb is with the two promises which close it — that you’ll discover the best and worst font in the world and “what your choice of font says about you”. They’re superfluous. The reader has just been cleverly reminded that they care about fonts, so there’s no need to bolt on more ‘benefits’, for them in such a Cosmo quiz way.
This is a blurb that assumes a bit of sophistication in its audience — it expects some of us to know that Helvetica is ubiquitous and Comic Sans is a joke — but it doesn’t take it for granted that we’ll shell out money for a book about them. It sidles up alongside our mild font-interest and nudges it into £9.99 (before discount) worth of curiosity. No wonder the book is selling.