Books on visual subjects are often multilingual publications. In recent years there have been publishers who are keen to see strictly segregated language editions, helped by the fall in production costs. This book about the typographer Walter Nikkels, however, is through and through trilingual and firmly in a tradition that goes a long way back in the history of books: that of the polyglot book.
The text in this book is almost all placed horizontally in three columns, with English on the left, German in the middle and Dutch on the right. One soon gets used to it. This way, text and image are distanced. The panel deemed this particularly appropriate given that typography plays such a dominant role in the images.
Printed on unpretentious paper, the book documents Nikkels’s production chronologically, with a detailed English oeuvre catalogue placed sideways at the bottom of the spread. Thanks to that decision the book manages without captions. The fact that a number of Nikkels’s own publications on his field have been included in the book makes it an exceptionally rich whole.
The details too have been well thought through. For example, the paragraphs in the three-column spreads are not indented but marked by an initial capital in bold type. As a bonus there is a cover by the master himself which encapsulates much of what follows later in the book. ‘Compulsory fare for all academies.’