I've been noticing a pattern in the use of typefaces in French and German books. It seems as if there were a strict national culture regarding what kind of typeface you should use. It's not always exactly the same but very similar ones and always clearly not the kind of the other country. To me, both kinds seem to be based on Garamond.
Here are some examples (from different books and editors) :France
Does someone have any idea:
Thanks a lot for any kind of help and advice !
Clausen & Bosse in Leck is a large-scale book printer, producing 600,000 paperbacks and 100,000 hardcovers on daily average, for numerous and diverse publishers. Of the 1,207 titles where information about the typefaces was available, 329 used Garamond*, 180 Aldus, 172 Sabon, 121 Bembo, 96 Times New Roman, 53 Minion, 48 Palatino, 38 Baskerville, 25 Walbaum, 22 Proforma-Book, 20 Caslon, 16 Janson, …
*) no differentiation between versions
That’s more than 50% for Garamond, Sabon and Bembo – and this includes books that are not literature in the narrower sense of the word.
Illustration by T.M. Cleland, 1929.
I understand that the language impacts the visual effect produced by the text. But to me the typefaces also play a role here. In this respect, I find Indra's explanation about the French need (and German disinterest) in low-x-height typefaces very convincing and it echoes my impression that German typefaces for books always look more vertical and the French very horizontal.
Here is a "a" comparison of the six texts:
You can see that the French uses a wider "a" with a low "tail" (sorry, I don't how you call it) and that the German uses a narrower "a", whose verticality is emphasized by the "tail" going up. There really seems to be two families here, no ?
As a last example, this a German book which looks French to me. My suspicion is that this book was edited by a very small association, not a big editor, and thus they wouldn't be aware of this whole thing.
My question arrises from personnal experience with books in these two languages, I haven't done any more research. I'm not trying to make a point, I just thought there might be some kind of well-known publishing culture behind this - but I guess I'm wrong, or someone would have pointed it out already.
The French samples you posted are actually in American-made Garamonds. Namely, in Adobe Garamond, and one seems to be in Granjon (which is an American type that combines Garamond and Caslon-like features). Apart from Stempel, nearly all the commercially-used Garamonds these days are American-made: Adobe G and G no. 3 being the most widely used.
Speaking of the French penchant for Garamond: recently, I came across a version of Fournier that's delightfully non-standard -- in that it can't make up its mind to leave the garalde age and move on. It's from the first edition (1788) of Lagrange's Analytic Mechanics. Take a looksie.
Aldus (1954) was designed specifically for book typesetting. It’s lighter and a tad narrower than Palatino. The official name at Stempel was Aldus-Buchschrift. The working title was Leichte Palatino (Palatino Light).³ Aldus was cut in sizes from 6 to 12pt. The Linotype adapation covers the same range of sizes.¹
1) Stempel specimens
2) H. Zapf, Gedanken und Probleme beim Entwurf von Werkschriften, D. Stempel AG, 1958. In: Philobiblon, 4/1958
3) N.J. Weichselbaumer, Der Typograph Hermann Zapf, De Gruyter Saur, 2016
BTW, the 1950 Palatino is noticeable, inter alia, by the lack of serifs on the descenders in the lowercase P and Q; the outer leg of lowercase M was curved inward visibly; and the crest in the middle of lowercase W rose up above the x-height line.
The Linotype version changed all that.