According to Simon Garfield, author of renowned typeface book, Just My Type, a typeface can truly define a product, person or campaign it represents. Garfield explains how the choice of typeface for advertising is a process that affects the way the consumer feels about a company’s product or service. In the publishing industry, publishers adhere to this rule and are constantly making conscious decisions concerning typefaces, at both the corporate level and for individual brands.
While it may seem like a no brainer, the typeface a publishing company uses for their overall content is a very important element in the publishing industry. A certain font will become part of the company’s identity and if they’re lucky, the public will recognise the company based on their typeface for many years to come.
Each typeface tells its own story and that story can have a lot to do with why a book publisher chooses it. Let’s look at Penguin Publisher’s font choice. Gill Sans was originally created as the font for the London Underground in the 1920’s. In 1935, Penguin Books began using the typeface for its book covers and jackets. On a larger scale, the history of this typeface represents motion and a relationship with London that few other typefaces can boast. Penguin saw this as a golden opportunity to create an association with a typeface that is featured nearly everywhere in London.
Other publishers choose typefaces based on their bestselling projects. For instance, Bloomsbury Publishing has a whimsical serif font which associates nicely with its bestselling and most prized product – the Harry Potter series, which has typefaces that are all its own. In this instance, Bloomsbury has worked hard to make the consumer realise that the company and one of the best-selling book series of all time are one and the same. This marketing tactic can come in handy for a publisher who is not as well known to its readers as their best works are.
For many companies, it is the choice of font associated with specific authors that is more imporant. Take Hachette Publishers for instance. While the corporate tite might not be a household name, many of their authors are. One of their most popular, bestselling romance guru Nicholas Sparks, has a typeface all his own, which is used for every one of his books. Debuted in 2000, the long characters of the font by Nicolas Cochin fit the Nicholas Sparks genre of romance and reality quite well. The font has become synonymous with best-selling works such as The Notebook and Dear John and has also been used in many of the motion picture adaptations. When a typeface can transcend from the publishing world to the movie world, one can see it truly the impact it has had on readers and marketing teams alike.
Just about the most popular author in today’s crime genre is James Patterson. His infamous crime novels have very recognisable covers, which seem to leap off the shelves and have really set the standards for crime fiction branding. Even the name of the Patterson font, “Libel Suit”, fits the genre perfectly. Other crime and mystery novelists often imitate this bold and intimidating look. One that comes to mind is bestselling crime novelist, Mary Higgins Clark. While the font is not identical, it is similar in style and presentation.
Fonts and typefaces can have a life that’s all their own. It’s important not to underestimate the power a typeface can have over the reader. It can change the way a reader feels about the words or title on a page. as much as an image or design can. Every choice of font is a conscious decision made by the publisher.