I’m speed reading Simon Garfield’s Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, with the emphasis swinging widely between “speed” and “reading”. If I ever master this speed business (a doubtful proposition at this point), I’ll have the Art & Architecture library, the owner of Just My Type, to thank. For despite Mr. Garfield’s book not being a reference work, despite it not having been checked out since the library acquired it last year, despite my status as a long suffering graduate student, the A&A checkout period for this book is a week. A week! Surely the A&A is not under the impression that people who check out books actually intend to start reading them immediately? Surely they know that other readings interfere? Surely they allow for being generally distracted, a state that I occupy for 90% of my waking hours. (‘m very focused while sleeping, however.)A 330-page book to read in a week is not impossible. It’s not even difficult, but it does require some dedication & concentration. Is this the rationale behind the A&A’s insanely short checkout period? Do they only want focused, dedicated readers for their books? Instead they got me.
In any case, I like Just My Type, as does Amazon, who made it their Book of the Month for September. I believe it is also a lot of other people’s type in the UK, where it was a bestseller. Isn’t it neat that so many people are interested in typography? Or can at least be made interested by a book? Well done, Mr. Garfield!
I must admit, however, that I have ulterior reasons for liking Just My Type. For one, it encapsulates a couple of themes that I’ve written on previously. It’s a Gutenberg book. It’s a book that’s gone through the process of international publishing, taking a good 11 months between the time the hardcover is published in the UK and when the US edition is released.
Also, it happened that the copy of Just My Type that the A&A library lent me is the UK edition. This piques my interest because according to a very recent court ruling, books manufactured abroad do not fall under the protection of the First Sale principle. This means that having bought a book with international origins, the owner cannot do with his purchase as he wishes. He cannot resell the book (so says the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals), and he may not be able to lend out the book as the A&A library is doing. This is serious stuff! As a consumer of used books, an aspiring librarian, and a constant worrier, I’m worried. My fingers are crossed that an appeal will be lodged & the decision of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned. I’d much rather the A&A library lends out books to me for a stingy week than not having books to lend at all!