Books

These are books which I have written, co-written or edited along with books which contain essays or articles of mine.

Script Type Terminology: A preview of a new book

These pages are from The Roots of Script, the working title for a book on script typefaces that Abby Goldstein and I have been writing since 2010. They are part of the opening section titled “How to Look at Scripts.” Scripts are not like other typefaces. There is almost no existing terminology to describe their letter parts other than terms used in the world of calligraphy. We adopted many of them, but still ended up inventing others.
The first three sheets …
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The Nomenclature of Letter Forms: A Brief Review of the Literature

The Belgian typographer Fernand Baudin, in How Typography Works (and why it is important) (New York: Design Press, 1988) wrote, “Novices are mistaken when they suppose there should be a ‘technical term” for every product of their enthusiasm & ignorance.” (p. 98)*. Although Baudin wrote this at the beginning of the digital type revolution—his text was originally published in French in 1984—his words are still applicable today. Indeed, they seem especially relevant as the horde of contemporary type geeks seem to …
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Some thoughts on Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive

Sophia Angelis has just written a very favorable review of Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive for The Designer’s Review of Books. As nice as it is to receive kind comments, it is even nicer to see a review that does more than simply give a thumb up or a thumb down on a book. Although, I do not agree with all of her opinions, I am glad to see someone voice their likes and dislikes without rancor or gushiness.
To …
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Gushing over Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Alexander Cameron has just written an exuberantly positive review of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System for I Love Typography. He especially focuses on the design of the book which both Abby and I appreciate. Some of his comments:
The format size of Helvetica+—285mm (w) x 245mm (h)—immediately suggests that this is primarily a book to study, and not necessarily read in transit. Both the text content (including substantial notes and captions) and that of the photography, illustration and …
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Philip Grushkin Collection

Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive (2013). Cover design by Kind Company.
The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University recently announced the acquisition of the Philip Grushkin Collection. Grushkin (1921–1998) was a book jacket designer, book designer and publishing educator and consultant. The collection was acquired from the Grushkin family by Glen Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. I wrote the text for Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive, the catalogue accompanying the collection. It outlines the life and career of Grushkin …
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The Art Book Prize finally decided

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System came up short at the Art Book Prize ceremony this evening at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London. The winner was Architecture in Uniform: Design and Building for the Second World War by Jean-Louis Cohen (Paris: Editions Hazan, distributed by Yale University Press, 2011).

The Art Book Prize update

The Art Book Prize in London has narrowed its field of finalists to two books: Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monchaux and Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story by myself (both published by MIT Press). The winner will be announced by The Authors’ Club on Thursday, November 22nd at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London. I doubt I will be there, but if any British friends have a chance to stop in at the gallery at 16 Wharf Road, …
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Joyous New Year

Season’s Greetings from Paul Shaw at Blue Pencil, Legacy of Letters and Paul Shaw / Letter Design. This card, set in Alejandro Paul’s Poem Script, is an outgrowth of The Roots of Type: Scripts, a book on digital script typefaces and their background that Abby Goldstein and I have been working on for several years. We expect it to be ready in 2012. Stay tuned for updates on its progress. Joyous New Year

More praise for Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

The current issue of Visible Language (45.3, pp. 261–263) contains a review of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System by the editor Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl. It is very laudatory and concludes on this positive note, “The book design facilitates taking different paths through the material, the visual examples tell their own story. Look carefully at the dates, when something was created and whether it lasted. The running narrative is staightforward, while the footnotes go into historical detail and …
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Acclaim for Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

Not only has Helvetica and the New York City Subway System been selected for the AIGA 50 Books competition but is has been declared one of the Best Books of 2011 by the writers and editors of Slate. It is one of only 17 books chosen and shares that honor with such lumimaries as Vladimir Nabokov, David Foster Wallace and Tina Fey (author of Bossypants). It is number seven in the queue, but since the books are not ranked …
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Typography Sketch Books

Although it has been talked about since late September I just got my complimentary copy of Typography Sketch Books by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) today. So I apologize for being behind the curve. My six pages show sketches, proofs and notes for my Origins, Kolo and Donatello typefaces. (The former was a custom typeface for Origins, the cosmetics firm, and is not available for general sale.) The book is not limited to …
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9/11 Memorial Leaves Its Mark on the Subway, All Rights Reserved

9/11 Memorial Leaves Its Mark on the Subway by David W. Dunlap New York Times Cityroom.blog “Until recently, Helvetica’s dominance was so assured that the M.I.T. Press could publish Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story by Paul Shaw, a design historian,” writes David W. Dunlap. “He concluded his account by stating that white-on-black Helvetica signs were ‘now as much a part of the New York City subway system’s visual identity as …
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Update: Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

The original, limited edition version of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System (Blue Pencil Editions, 2009) has been sold out since the end of February 2010. Neither I nor my colleague Abby Goldstein, the co-designer of the book, have any copies for sale. Those who are looking for the book should either try eBay or the various online used book sources. The other option is to buy the newly published revised edition of the book now available from …
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Video View: Helvetica and the New York City Subway System Signage

Last February—with the assistance of Abby Goldstein and Jan Conradi—I organized Navigating the Labyrinth: Unimark International and the New York City Subway System for AIGA New York. The event was a sequel to my book on the history of Helvetica in the subway system and a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards manual designed by Massimo Vignelli of Unimark. The event, co-moderated by Jan and myself with a panel …
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Helvetica and the New York City Subway System


Blue Pencil is pleased to announce the first Blue Pencil Editions publication: Helvetica and the New York Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story. This is an updated, expanded, annotated and profusely illustrated version of the essay originally written by me for AIGA Voice in the fall of 2008. The book version takes into account new information and is supplemented by comprehensive notes, a bibliography and a chronology of the New York City subway system. Prof. …
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