Friday, February 22, 2008


If I had any doubt that I am not cut out to be a publisher, that doubt was completely erased last night when I watched with absolute fascination a documentary about Helvetica. You know, Helvetica? The type face/font so popular in graphic design? Yes, I sat for an hour and half and watched interview after interview with designers from all over the world talk about the creation and development of a font. I am a nerd!

The documentary is called Helvetica and is distributed through Netflix. It examines how Helvitica transformed graphic design as part of the Modern arts movement in the 1950's and how it is still the dominant type used in advertising today. Look around. Everywhere you look, you will see Helvetica. Crate and Barrel, Target, JC Penny, Mervyns, the words on your Starbucks take out cup, all use Helvetica. Even IRS forms use Helvetica.

Helvetica is not a good font to use for books, but I still found the documentary riveting. Wow! I didn't know Helvetica was named after the Roman word for Switzerland. Cool! Which is proof positive that I am a font nerd. A book slut. Because to me, a book is more than just the story it contains. It is the font used to tell the tale, the paper it is printed on, the overall weight of the book, how it is bound, what the cover looks like, how the spine crackles when you open it, and what the cover design reveals about the story inside. A book is a work of art in itself, regardless of the story. Not that the story isn't important; of course it is. But everything else that goes into the creation of that book brings the story to life. And that's what I love. The nerdiness of that creation process.

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