This week, while Harper Lee is thrust back into the spotlight because of her much-anticipated sophomore novel Go Set a Watchman, someone else, heretofore unrelated to the book, is experiencing a unique satisfaction.
Retired font designer Paul Veres was surfing the Internet recently when he stumbled across the cover of Watchman. “I saw a small image of the [book jacket] and thought, ‘Gee this looks familiar.’ When I found a larger image of the book I recognized immediately that it uses my font.”
HarperCollins confirmed that Veres’ font, Caterina, is indeed the one used on the cover of the book, which went on sale today. Veres, who named the font after his mother, assumes it was chosen for its striking similarity to the typeface used on the 1960 cover of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Veres's fonts are licensed and sold through various vendors; they are purchased for a one-time fee, and he receives royalties whether the font is ultimately used or not. He said designers may also purchase a DVD of a font library, and use as many as they wish. “It’s like buying a dictionary--you may only look up three words, but you still pay for [the whole book].”
This isn't the first time that Veres has experienced a thrill from seeing his work crop up in an unsuspecting place. “I have discovered a few places where my fonts are in use, and it’s very nice to see," he said. "I can walk into any supermarket or drugstore, and see one of my fonts on a very well known brand called Aveeno.”
Because Veres isn't notified how his fonts are being used, finding them can often be an unexpected pleasure. “I don’t get to know about it unless I discover it myself," he said. "You’ll see labels on fruit salad and bananas, and will have no idea who created the font.”
Font designers are rarely credited for their fonts, and this holds true in the world of trade book publishing. While designers and photographers receive credit for their work on book jackets, font designers remain largely in the background.
And, for the most part, Veres has accepted this reality. “I think of it as three seconds of anonymous fame," he explained. He then added: "With all my fonts added up, maybe I’ll get fifteen minutes total.”
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, the picture caption said Veres was displaying his font used on the cover of Go Set a Watchman. He is, in fact, displaying a different font he created, and not the one used on the Watchman cover.