Hermann Zapf
G. K. Schauer, Frankfurt am Main, German, 1963
Nonfiction, Graphic Design
On 1 book list
Mark Fox

This compendium of 78 of Zapf’s book and title page designs is less about reading than it is about seeing. The American paperback edition, Typographic Variations, is quite good and worth owning. The original German casebound edition, however, is a revelation and my comments relate to that version. The German edition is letterpress printed and, at 8 3/8 x 12 1/8 inches, is around 130 percent larger than the American paperback. The generous margins of the original page design present the work in a way that invites study; the extra space also allows Zapf to blind deboss the folio and rules indicating the original title page trim sizes. The resulting hierarchical effect is wondrous. The synthesis of type design, page design, paper, and printing as realized in this work is a paean to German book arts. The experience of reading/touching/seeing this book produces pleasure, certainly, but ultimately it induces reverence (and joy!) because it reminds us of what a book can be. The introduction by Paul Standard celebrates what he terms the “courteous typographer” whose craft serves “the book, and so of civilization.”

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