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Hum, for some reason I would like to buy myself a book about typography. I have a lot of interest in this field, and already have some knowledge learnt from reading Typophile now and then, among other online sources. I would like to consolidate my knowledge with a book about typography, possibly a mix of theoretical considerations and examples (I quite like the balance achieved, for example, in the Tufte books).

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I hope this is on-topic… I saw there were other “books recommendation” questions, so I jumped right in. Feel free to edit if the question is too specific or too broad. –  F'x Oct 31 '12 at 18:18
    
Looks fine to me :). The key thing is, there's a criteria the answers can be judged against - "how well does this book introduce the key principles of typography to beginners?", it's not just listing endless typography books. –  user568458 Nov 2 '12 at 14:41

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If you're going to get one book on typography, I would grab The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. It's self–demonstrating and is filled with tons of useful and intriguing examples, as well as an informative, but brief history of type. It's a great introduction that will continue to prove helpful far into the future.

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Second that! It's the best book on the subject of book typography and provides an excellent foundation for all forms of typographic design. –  plainclothes Oct 31 '12 at 20:17
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This is pretty much the textbook standard, it's very often the standard text on courses and is probably the most influential typography book, and it works as an introduction. A bit rambly and over-prescriptive at times (that said, they all are), but there's a reason it gets called the typography Bible. –  user568458 Nov 2 '12 at 14:45

The Form of the Book by Jan Tschichold. He dedicated a tremendous amount of time to researching the minutiae of classical typography. In his very German way, this collection of articles distills all that work down to digestible chunks of info. Judging by Amazon's price, I'm not the only one who loves this book! See if you can find it elsewhere for cheap. I think I paid about $25 years ago.

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web is another great resource. I haven't seen much develop there in a long time but what the author completed is very good.

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Tschichold is very interesting. He did have very set ideas based in his time so you need to read him keeping in mind to take some and leave some. Take his advice to achieve beautiful balance in your text but leave the all centered titled pages in the 1920s. –  Emilie Feb 13 at 17:01
    
For "fine book typography" his advice comes from the golden age. I wouldn't discard anything he outlines. For other mediums, The Form of the Book is simply one block of your foundation of understanding the magic of type. But it's a very solid one! –  plainclothes Feb 20 at 18:09

The book that changed the way I see typography was Just My Type by Simon Garfield. It's not exactly technical, it's more of a book of stories about fonts, but it's done and narrated beautifully. I would definitely recommend it!

Just My Type examines how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. It explains why we are still influenced by type choices made more than 500 years ago, and why the T in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters. It profiles the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, as well as people like Neville Brody who threw out the rulebook. The book is about that pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers, and typefaces became something we realized we all have an opinion about. And beyond all this, the book reveals what may be the very best and worst fonts in the world – and what your choice of font says about you.

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"Stop Stealing Sheep" is a typical Type 101 required reading:

http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Stealing-Sheep-Works-Edition/dp/0201703394

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Lots of great suggestions here, I would add Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton (which also comes with well-documented companion website.

It is different from Bringhurst or Tschichold as it contains much more about expression but still contains lots of information about the smaller details in type.

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