Book Design - Bodoni?

Joma's picture

I am wondering if anyone out there has ever (or would ever) set a full book (200-300 pages) in Bodoni Book or something similar.

Thoughts, comments?

Mitternacht's picture

This would instantly remind me of the novels and essays printed in France during the XIXth century. They have a charm of their own, but Dinones are not legibility champions and they bear heavy connotations :) Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, you decide.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Check out

I would also consider Sumner Stone’s ITC Bodoni with optical sizes.

kentlew's picture

Frode — As an aside: I’m sure Sumner would be the first to point out that ITC Bodoni is not his work alone. He oversaw the project, but the drawings were done by a team of folks. From his own description:

“The ITC Bodoni was produced by a team of designers, art directed by Sumner Stone. Holly Goldsmith designed the Six Roman; Janice Prescott-Fishman the Seventy-two Roman; Jim Parkinson the Six Italic; Mr. Stone the Seventy-two Italic, the Swash Capitals for the Seventy-two Italic, and the Ornaments. The Twelve point versions of the family were produced by computerized interpolation between the Six and Seventy-two point versions.”

Just thought I’d clarify.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Thanks! I didn’t know that.

BeauW's picture

XIXth Century was just the start. Bodini is still a pretty common choice for french publishing. Just one more barrier for my reading comprehension as I try to maintain my hard won 'francisasion'.

Actually, I have an 1809 book printed by Pierre Didot that is shockingly readable, french language not-with-standing.

Joma's picture

Fascinating. This is why I like this place. :)

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

I have several books set in (a) Bodoni I'd really love to read, but can't (i.e. the absolutely worthwhile books by Paul Rand).
Especially when printed on coated paper it is a pain to read!
So, if you choose Bodoni make sure you pick a variant/weight without too much contrast and/or a natural uncoated stock (maybe with some volume). Readability will probably benefit from dot gain.

Nick Shinn's picture

The didone types are hard to master.
They are frequently criticized for poor readability, but IMO the fault generally lies with the typographer, not the face.
There is also prejudice, within some sections of the typographic community, against anything which is not an easy read.

The violin, it could be said, has poor listenability.
It is a difficult instrument to play, and to listen to.
The Bach Partita in D, for instance, is not background music.
But if it is played by a maestro, and one is prepared to apply some concentration, the entire piece may be listened to and the experience can be quite rewarding.

charles ellertson's picture

There are a large number of Bodoni fonts out there. Berthold Bodoni Antiqua medium works OK for books.

Long ago, I made up a set of Bodoni Book fonts with os figs and small caps, based on whatever Adobe was offering. May have had to changed the contrast of the thick-thin strokes a little, I can't remember.

I think the smallest master size from Sumner Stone would probably work for text. It may say six point, but with today's workflows (direct to plate), probably the best bet, even for an 11-point setting.

As with so many older fonts, all it takes is somebody sitting down and looking at the ink on the paper rather than the type forms. You can't quite duplicate the look of meal, but you can come close enough. The problems is most Bodoni's go for sparkle, and that means too high a contrast between the thick and thin strokes of the characters.

Christopher Adams's picture

OBELISK from MIT Press is set quite handsomely in ITC Bodoni Six, Twelve and Twenty. 384 pp.

charles ellertson's picture

Yes, Obelisk is getting quite close. Do you know if the text was set using the 12-point or the 6-point master?

David W. Goodrich's picture

Acrobat 9 Pro's Touch-up Text tool says body text is BodoniTweITC-BookOS at 10.5 pts on what looks to be 12-pt leading.

Christopher Adams's picture

charles_e: Sorry to disappoint. 12-point it is. I read your question as a secret wish to see a book set in the 6-point master.

Alas, I didn't mean to write "Twenty" in the above. I don't know where that came from.

charles ellertson's picture

I read your question as a secret wish to see a book set in the 6-point master.

Yup. I'd like to see one set using the 6-point master for text. I bet the contrast would be better, but the characters themselves a bit worse for a 10 or 11 point setting. If that was only ascenders and descenders, that'd be easy to fix. Usually there is a bit more to it. And the sidebearings might need some work -- again, not too hard.

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