The Art & Practice of Typography

Its been a long and busy summer, but nothing much has happened at Digital Aladore. Far too long since the last posts! There are really only a few more to go before the project can wrap up and release the final ebook to the world. If only I can find the time…

If you need some heavy reading in traditional typography, check out Edmund G Gress, The Art & Practice of Typography, digitized by the Smithsonian:

art & practice of typographyIt is amusing to download the EPUB–why, oh why was this created?  Not only is the OCR appalling on all the strange fonts and columns, but it misses the point of showing off the art of typography!

First, the OCR could be vastly improved with just a few tiny edits, for example the first paragraph of the preface reads:

IN the preface to the first edition of “The Art and Practice of Typograpliy,” the author stated that he did not “anticipate again having tlie pleasure of producing a book as elaborate as tliis one,” but the favor witli wliich tlie volume was received made anotlier edition advisable

It takes one human glance to realize that “h” is not being recognized (by ABBYY), which a computer should realize as well with a simple spelling dictionary.  (Readers of Digital Aladore, of course, could fix this file up in no time!)

Meanwhile, the varied examples of type are reduced to this single CSS:

body {
font-family: "Palatino Linotype", "Book Antiqua", Palatino, Georgia, "Times New Roman", serif;
h1,h2,h3,h4 {
font-family: "Palatino Linotype", "Book Antiqua", Palatino, Georgia, "Times New Roman", serif;
p {
font-family: Georgia,  "Palatino Linotype", "Book Antiqua", Palatino, "Times New Roman", serif;
img {
display: block; text-align: center; margin: 1em auto;

Here is an amusing example: page 170,

art & practice of typography p170

is reduced by “ABBYY to EPUB” to this:

<div class="newpage" id="page-170"/>
<p> EXAMPLE 465</p>
<p> Evolution of Roman lower-case type-faces. (A) Pen-made Roman capitals. (B) Development into Minuscules or lower-case thru rapid lettering. (C) Black Letter or German Text developed from Roman Uncials. (D) White Letter, the open, legible Caroline Minuscules, on which Jenson based his Roman type-face of 1470. (E) A recent typeface closely modeled on Jenson s Roman types. (F) Joseph Moxon's letters of 1676. (G) Caslon s type-face of 1722</p>
<p> The face first selected—and witlioiit Iicsitatioii—was foundries and tliat are available for niacliine composition.</p>
<p> Caslon Oldstyle as originally designed. Scotcli Roman was It may be well to inject liere a warning that most so-called</p>
<p> the second selection, Cheltenham Oldstyle the tliird, Clois- Caslon Oldstylcs are not as good as the one selected (Ex-</p>
<p> ter Oldstyle tlie fourth, Bodoni Book the fifth, and French amjile KiT-B) ; that Jenson Oldstyle is inferior to Clois-</p>
<p> Oldstyle the sixtli. (All shown in Example 4(57-) ter Oldstyle (Example I(i7-A) as a re])resentative of the</p>
<p> Type-faces designed and cut for j^rivate use were not original Jenson type. However, good representatives of</p>
<p> considered in making these selections, as it was believed Scotch Roman (Example 'KiT-D) are obtainable under the</p>
<p> best to adhere to type-faces that are procurable from most name of Wayside, of National Roman, etc.</p>
<p> a h c cl e f g h i j k I m n o ]:&gt; q r s t u v w x y z How it appears assembieel</p>
<p> (A) Modernized Oldstyle, the Miller &amp; Richard type-face of about 1852</p>
<p> ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdef ghi jklmnopqrstuvwxyz    How it appears assembled</p>
<p> (B) Century Expanded, the Benton "modern" type-face of 1901</p>
<p> EXAMPLE 466</p>
<p> Two standard type-faces that rate high in legibility, but that are colorless in the mass and lacking in the pleasing irregularities of form that characterized Roman type-faces before the nineteenth century. The various qualities of legibility found in Modernized Oldstyle have been converted to narrower letter shapes and more "modern " form in Century Expanded</p>

Which means it looks something like this on your ereader:

typography ereadHard on the eyes and meaningless!

The example illustrates the issues we have been dealing with at Digital Aladore– ebooks are awesome, but how can be bring the craft back into publishing?


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