One of the World’s Best Type References Released in English

There are more type reference books published each year than we can keep track of – so why is Joep Pohlen’s book, Letter Fountain so special?

Originally self-published in 1994, Letter Fountain: The Anatomy of Type was available in French, German & Dutch. In 2000, 15,000 copies had been sold & the book went out of print. Many type teachers, particularly in the Netherlands had become so dependent on this book as the text for their classes, they began instructing students to find it used or second hand.

Pohlen then decided to revise & expand his original book & finally, in 2009, it was re-released & within 7 weeks the first printing was sold out.

Letter Fountain is different from the majority reference books in that it doesn’t give examples of work from famous designers. Contrary to the opinions given on the video in our previous post, Pohlen says “Students have to learn to design for themselves and not learn to copy from other peoples’ design,” he insists. “This is not a how-to-do book in that sense. I wanted to give the reader as objective as I could the language he or she needs to develop their own style.” 

The book appears to be a gem. With a good portion of its bulk being dedicated to an exhaustive glossary & bibliography, to make it, as Pohlen puts it, “possible to search through the book like you would the internet”

image from joep pohlen

Currently, Joep is putting together an educational site based on the book in Dutch, French, German, and English. The first Dutch version is at www.letterfontein.nl.

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