Book Excerpt

ABE LERNER 1908-2002. Kit Currie

ABE LERNER 1908-2002.

New York: The Typophiles, 2003. 8vo. stiff paper wrappers, cord-tied. 31+(1) pages. Typophiles Monograph New Series #20. Known throughout the world of typography, Abe Lerner was a highly respected and talented typographer/book designer with links to the likes of the great Bruce Rogers. With a meticulous eye for detail and clean design, he was constantly working on new projects. With a career that landed him as the Director of Design and Production at Macmillan, President..... READ MORE

Price: $30.00  other currencies  Order nr. 75326

Introduction by Kit Currie.


To write an introduction to a book about Abe Lerner is primarily a labor of love, but it is also one of some sadness. Not only because of his death, but because, as he grew older Abe became a little bitter about the lack of recognition he experienced from all the book and typographical organizations for his more than sixty years as a designer and producer of books. For all that time he stead- fastly upheld the high standards to which he thought books should aspire, and as steadfastly decried the many revolting examples of desktop publishing and wacky private presses which seemed at times to dominate the book market. Nevertheless, he welcomed all serious newcomers to printing and design, and gave strong encouragement wherever and whenever he thought it was merited.

He enjoyed his work enormously, and I never heard him say things like "Oh, dammit, I have to spend the morning on that wretched cover"-or invitation or whatever it might be, as many of us have done from time to time. He worked carefully and conscientiously, spending as much time, if necessary, on a paperback as on an art book. Though he insisted he was too old to learn to design on the computer, he managed to convey his ideas clearly to whoever did use the computer. Bad design really distressed him. So often I have seen him shake his head sorrowfully on picking up a new trade book-look at that awful thick type! Look at those hideous fussy ornaments! Look at those non-existent margins! He always said what he thought, though he tried to avoid hurting people's feelings. "Perhaps if you had used a darker red" or "A slightly larger type might have worked better for that headline." "But generally it works very well" he would hastily conclude. He was a great help to me in my first year or two at H.P. Kraus, Inc., where I was hired by the renowned H.P. under the mistaken impression that I knew how to produce catalogues. However, I winged it through those first couple of years, and eventually reached the stage where I could look critically at Abe's work and occasionally make a suggestion-which he occasionally accepted.