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Interactive Annual 18:
information design

FontBook on iPad

Launch Movie

“Type porn at its finest and most useful. This successful digital translation of the highly-regarded printed reference achieves near perfection with the ability to sort by name, foundry, designer and more.”
—David Wright

“For designers who work with type everyday, this is an incredibly useful tool and could be a game-changer for how we select typefaces for our projects.” —Keith Butters

Overview: Functioning like a typographical roadmap, this app features over 620,000 typefaces and 110 foundries—the equivalent of more than 20 printed FontBooks. With the swipe of a finger, typophiles can interact with and compare typefaces on-the-go, share font specimens to social networks and look up and view fonts by name, style category, typographical subclassification, designer, foundry, year of publication or by similarity of design. Primarily for online browsing, the app displays full content with an Internet connection; users without online access can temporarily switch an “include online content” setting to “off,” which enables the app to display a reduced selection of content that works offline.

  • • As of mid-December, over 16,000 copies had been sold, with a solid 4.5 rating in the iTunes App Store.
  • • iTunes named FontBook the best of the iPad Reference category in the us version of App Store Rewind 2011.
  • • In January 2012, v2.0 was released with an expanded homepage featuring three new sections (News, Usage and Compare); 250 new and updated font families; a new online news stream featuring daily typography news; and automatic over-the-air content updates.

Comments by Jürgen Siebert

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “To deliver a better user experience than a printed compendium.”

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly difficult one to reach?FontBook’s traditional audience is specialized in typographic design and many users have known us for years. But with the app, we reached an additional audience of general type lovers or the type-curious.”

Did you learn anything new during the process? “We’ve learned to see our product (fonts) from a different angle. We also learned to offer typeface lovers a variety of search and compare options.”

How did time constraints affect your final solution? “The real constraints were the result of budget constraints, not time. We defined a basic set of functionality that had to be met by V1.0 and although we more than fulfilled that task, the nice thing about apps is that they can be built-on and extended from version to version.”

Were there any specific demands that made the project easier or harder? “Not for the basic features but we’re still not entirely happy with the support of non-Latin typefaces—which will be improved in a later version.”


Jan Rikus Hillmann, user experience director
Star Morin/Andreas Pieper,, programmers
Fabian Posada/Mai-Linh Thi Truong, database programmers
Jürgen Siebert, editor
Indra Kupferschmid, type director
Stephen Coles/Yves Peters, consultants
Jason Vagner/Petra Weitz, publishers
FSI FontShop International (San Francisco, CA), project design and development/client

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