Editions   North America | Europe | Magazine

WhatTheyThink

Articles by Frank Romano

Frank Romano has spent over 60 years in the printing and publishing industries. Many know him best as the editor of the International Paper Pocket Pal or from the hundreds of articles he has written for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East to Asia and Australia. Romano lectures extensively, having addressed virtually every club, association, group, and professional organization at one time or another. He is one of the industry's foremost keynote speakers. He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.

Displaying 1-99 of 867 articles

Frank's Book of the Month

Published April 12, 2024

Frank reviews “As If By Chance” by Kevin Reed Donley, a wonderful book about transformative technology from Gutenberg to Steve Jobs. Each short chapter is a gem that describes the people who changed print forever. Many you know; some you do not.

Remembering Don Goldman

Published April 10, 2024

Frank Romano remembers Don Goldman, who passed away recently.

Artificially Frank

Published April 5, 2024

Frank goes on a rant about artificial intelligence. He found a program called Moveabletype.ai that can write a book for you. As usual Frank projects this capability into the world of graphic design and even type design. Soon you may be reporting to your printing press.

Frank Gets Steamed

Published March 29, 2024

Frank begins by talking about the early steam-driven newspaper presses and the giant printing presses at the Los Angeles Times and segues into the decline of printed newspapers. They could be inkjet-printed but delivery to home or business could be the challenge.

Frank Gets Tested

Published March 22, 2024

Frank comments on the move of the SATs to electronic form. High school students will now take this test paperless and pencil-less. The SATs have been around since 1926 and are used for college admissions although some colleges no longer require them.

Frank Fontificates

Published March 15, 2024

Frank quotes a NY Times article about Microsoft’s new default font called Aptos, which sends Frank down a rabbit hole involving the beginning of PostScript type and the Arial/Helvetica situation.

Frank's Season in Hell

Published March 8, 2024

Frank is sitting at a gigantic Hell color scanner from the 1960s. It primarily scanned color slides and chromes. As photography went digital, flatbed scanners became smaller and smaller and were eventually integrated into digital printers.

Flongging Frank

Published March 1, 2024

Frank discusses one of the enabling technologies of the printing industry: stereotyping. It gave us faster reprints of books and allowed presses to print at high speeds from rolls of paper. Stereotype molds were called flongs. The modern print enabler is PDF.

Frank Moonlights as a Mime(ograph)

Published February 23, 2024

Frank has his mind on the Mimeograph. This stencil duplicator was once the primary reproduction device for schools, churches, and other organizations. It was replaced by the copier, the duplicator offset press, and now the printer/scanner. Most of office communication is now electronic.

Frank's Circular Thinking

Published February 16, 2024

Frank talks about ad circulars, also known as free standing inserts (FSIs), once inserted in Sunday newspaper editions but now mailed vis USPS. Increasingly, we go online to find items on sale by supermarkets and other retail stores.

Frank Makes Some Key Points

Published February 9, 2024

Frank talks about taking notes via computer rather than handwriting. He describes a book project called “Shift Happens” on the history of the keyboard. Lastly, he identifies several studies that say that taking notes by hand results in better retention of information.

The Revelation of Frank

Published February 2, 2024

Frank describes Bible translations for populations with no written language. Through such translations, missionaries helped to save many societies and cultures from extinction. Eskimo, Burmese, Hawaiian, Cherokee, and Navajo are a few. It was printing that made all this possible.

Frank's Fuzzy Logic

Published January 26, 2024

Frank is having second thoughts about the 2024 Pantone Color of the Year. It is “peach fuzz,” a yellow-orange. Graphic designers must balance the worlds of CMYK and Pantone and it may be time to seek new ideas about how we handle color for print. Come up with your own color for 2024 in the Comments.

Offset Sets Off

Published January 19, 2024

Frank talks about offset lithography in front of an AB Dick 360 offset duplicator. He holds up a 1904 math book, the first book printed by offset litho. From its invention just after 1900, offset took 50 years to become the dominant printing process. It is now being challenged by toner and inkjet printing.

All the News That Gives Frank Fits

Published January 12, 2024

Frank has a fit about news. He opines that once it was not what was fit to print but what fit in print. Now there is no limit and articles go on forever to provide more places to insert ads, popups, and more.

Frank's Comic

Published December 15, 2023

Frank talks about typeface jokes. Before there was Comic Sans, there was Souvenir, a typeface that Frank ridiculed for years. All of his Souvenir jokes are in “Types Best Remembered/Types Best Forgotten” (1993) by British typographer Robert Norton. Norton was the typographic advisor to Microsoft.

Frank's Little Piggie

Published December 8, 2023

Frank describes a 1919 book called “Piggie,” which was the first book typeset with a typewriter. Appleton Publishing was dealing with a typesetters’ strike and used a Hammond typewriter with proportional spacing.

Frank Remembers the Future

Published December 1, 2023

Frank fires up his Waiback Machine. He looks both back and forward in time to discuss how we predict the future of print. He looks at the evolution of technology and its effect on print volumes.

Frank Enters the Twilight Zone

Published November 17, 2023

Frank harkens back to 1963 and an episode of "The Twilight Zone" that deals with the devil and a Linotype machine. Anything typed on this “infernal machine” comes true. Frank combines nostalgia and trivia in one video.

Frank to the Power of Three

Published November 10, 2023

Frank has three pieces of good news. 1. From exhibitor feedback, it was a great PRINTING United exhibition in Atlanta. 2. Deborah Corn’s Printing Across America day was a great success. 3. Joanne Gore’s book “Thriving in Chaos” should be required reading for all printing companies.

Frank Finds Meaning

Published November 3, 2023

Frank recommends “The Dictionary People” by Sarah Ogilvie. It chronicles the literal army of people who contributed to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). It took over 30 years to produce the first volume (A-B).

Remembering Jill Roth

Published October 31, 2023

Frank Romano remembers “American Printer” editor Jill Roth, who passed away suddenly last weekend.

Frank Has a Point

Published October 27, 2023

Frank rants about the small print. He attributes the problem to poor knowledge about typographic x-height. The number used to express point size does not truly describe the actual size of the type being printed.

Frank's Show Must Go On

Published October 20, 2023

The major printing trade show of 2023 just took place in Atlanta. Frank harkens back to a time when there were 14 trade shows every year and has the show directories and badges to prove it. He hopes that the future of the trade show will not be in a museum.

Frank on Trading Spaces

Published October 13, 2023

Frank comments on the announcement that Xerox has withdrawn from drupa by tracing the company’s interesting history with trade shows and product introductions.

Frank Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Published October 6, 2023

Newspapers are getting smaller. The broadsheet newspaper of the past is now a fraction of its size as it went from a width of 15 inches to under 12 inches today. If this trend continues, your newspaper may soon be a newsletter.

Frank Goes to the Library

Published September 29, 2023

Frank opines on the future of the library. He sees libraries as access locations for Internet connection because the ultimate library is on the Web. People will still borrow books, but most research will be online.

Frank Talk on Type with Allan Haley

Published September 22, 2023

Frank interviews type expert Allan Haley, who has spent a lifetime with letters. From Compugraphic to ITC to Monotype Imaging, he has been involved in and reported on typographic developments. As the number of typefaces grows, his job is getting bigger.

Around Frank's Web

Published September 15, 2023

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, seeing it as a portal to a world of knowledge. His model was an 1856 British book “Enquire Within Upon Everything.” Of course, Frank had to have a copy...or two.

Frank and the Good Book

Published September 8, 2023

Frank discusses the most printed book in the world: the Bible. He talks about some of the rare Bibles at the Museum of Printing. There is one leaf from every Bible printed in Colonial America and complete originals of about 50 Bibles. A number of reference books are also available.

Frank Against the Establishments

Published September 1, 2023

Frank looks into statistics reporting the number of printing establishments. Government data for NAICS 323 does not include Staples and FedEx Office, about 3,000 U.S. sites. Very small printers may self-categorize. We need more accurate industry sizing.

Frank on Broadway

Published August 25, 2023

Frank reviews a show coming to Broadway for a second time called “Gutenberg! The Musical!” In the upcoming 20-week run, two actors pitch a proposed show to Broadway investors. The show ran off-Broadway eight years ago and is being heavily promoted for its encore performance.

Remembering John Warnock

Published August 21, 2023

John Warnock the American computer scientist, inventor, and technology businessman best known for co-founding Adobe Systems Inc died on August 20, 2023.

Frank Is Free-Standing

Published August 18, 2023

Frank talks about the free-standing inserts (FSIs), the promotions that were once inserted in newspapers. Because email addresses are not linked to specific ZIP-coded areas, the U.S. Postal System is now the major distributor of FSIs.

Frank Goes Back to School

Published August 11, 2023

Frank has collected most of the textbooks used to teach printing. For decades, they did not change very much as they taught hand typesetting and letterpress printing. Offset lithography was also relatively standardized—but new printing technologies make it difficult for schools to cover them.

Frank Goes Across America

Published August 4, 2023

Frank joins the chorus supporting Print Across America, a day celebrating print. Print Across America is the brainchild of Deborah Corn, who has done more to promote print than any other person. Mark your calendar for October 25, 2023. Get more information at www.printacrossamerica.com and join the party.

Frank in the Box

Published July 28, 2023

Frank thinks outside the box as he notes that we are all online and thus buying online and this requires shipping which requires boxes. Thus, he opines, packaging in all its forms is a growth market that all printers should consider, especially digital packaging.

Frank Saves Pennies

Published July 21, 2023

Frank discusses the world of the advertising shopper, also called a “pennysaver.” At one time, most small towns and cities had these newsprint publications filled with ads for local businesses. They competed with the Yellow Pages. Now their content is mostly on social media.

Frank Drops Some Knowledge

Published July 14, 2023

Frank recommends two new books on how knowledge is communicated, then shows off his collection of encyclopedias—that is, a volume from most encyclopedia sets. Diderot’s Encyclopedie in the 1700s and the Encyclopedia Britannica in the 1800s led the way in putting knowledge at your fingertips.

Frank's Impressions

Published June 30, 2023

Frank congratulates Printing Impressions magazine on 65 years of publication and especially its editor for 40 of those years—Mark Michelson. There are only a handful of printed magazines for the printing industry and we need to support them.

Frank Goes to School

Published June 23, 2023

Frank discusses printing education and the need for college-educated workers for the changing printing industry. He thinks that print scholarship money should be directed at printing education and that the amounts should be increased.

Frank Rules

Published June 16, 2023

Frank takes the measure of the printing industry by talking about rulers. At one time, every print worker had a “pica pole” with them to confirm type measure and specs. Aprons had special slots for the many versions of rulers.

Pulp Friction

Published June 9, 2023

Frank reviews a book called “Dead Tree Media,” which prompts a tale of how the invention of newsprint grew the newspaper industry. It also led to conflict between the Canadian papermakers and the newspaper publishers.

Frank Knows Jack

Published June 2, 2023

Frank is on a sugar high from Cracker Jack, or in this case, Cracker Jill. He traces the history of the prizes from metal to plastic to paper to virtual. He bemoans the fact that the prizes are being discontinued and users will be directed to a website.

Frank's Far-Flong NYT Editions

Published May 26, 2023

Friends sent Frank a copy of the national edition of The New York Times—with a page from the Wall Street Journal inside. This prompts a discussion about consolidated daily newspaper production, stereotype molds, flongs, and PDF files. Only Frank can find a connection.

Frank's Walk in the PARC

Published May 19, 2023

Frank reports that Xerox has donated its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to another research organization, ending decades of research into advanced communication technologies. The Graphical User Interface changed the way we worked on computer screens, but other companies, primarily Apple, commercialized it.

Frank in the Year 5000

Published May 12, 2023

In 1939, they buried a time capsule at the New York World’s Fair. Frank reviews the printed items that went into the capsule—and asks what we might save for the world that will exist in the year 5000, if there is a world in 5000.

Frank Gets Discursive

Published May 5, 2023

Frank starts by commenting on how typesetters handled the character in Moby Dick who could not sign his name and then segues into the fact that many people cannot sign their name because they were not taught cursive writing.

Frank King

Published May 3, 2023

Frank makes a rare Wednesday appearance to talk about today's coronation of King Charles III in the context of all the printed materials required for such an event. Today's coronation would have had as large a print requirement as that of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953. Frank walks through the Penrose Annual's documentation of much of it.

Frank's Staple Industry

Published April 28, 2023

Google cost-cutting has affected every level of the organization. In one report, Frank saw that they were cutting the use of staplers. Frank wonders what they are stapling in the company that exemplifies the concept of a paperless office.

Frank Phones It In

Published April 21, 2023

Frank pivots from the 50th anniversary of the first cellphone call to the effect of smartphones on print communication. The mobile phone is much more than a phone. It is a music and video player, a camera and video recorder, an Internet communicator, and a reading device.

(Point) Size Matters

Published April 14, 2023

Frank shows two small books from the 1800s set in 2- or 3-point type. He compares the type in them to the backs and sides of pharmaceutical packaging today. Even with bifocals, they are hard to read. Point size is based on x-height and the numbers are not really descriptive.

Frank On Libraries

Published March 31, 2023

Frank notes that many academic libraries are replacing real books with digital versions. At the same time there is a movement toward book banning in some communities. What will a library look like in the future? Answer: a big building with empty shelves.

The Roots of the Printing Industry

Published March 24, 2023

Frank takes us on an historic journey from the Mimeograph to offset duplicators to modern inkjet printing. He tells of Thomas Edison, the Mimeograph, and A. B. Dick. The result of all this was evident at Hunkeler Innovationdays 2023 where inkjet printing dominated.

In Local Parentis

Published March 17, 2023

Frank reports that the state of Massachusetts is thinking of subsidizing local newspapers, so long as they have at least one local reporter. Whether it goes through or not remains to be seen, but it's a reaction to the current state of the newspaper industry and the importance and value of local news.

Frank Reads the Riot Act to Reading

Published March 10, 2023

Frank bemoans the reading experience as it is today on electronic devices, compared with printed newspapers. Articles are longer because space is not a constraint and text is interrupted with a barrage of ads.

Start the Presses!

Published March 3, 2023

The Museum of Printing in Haverhill, Mass., has more than 30 different letterpress models. Six of them are in the museum's Studio, where members can use them to create letterpress projects. MoP Director of Operations Mitchel Ahern took up the challenge of printing on all six in under 4 minutes—a world record.

Frank Looks Out

Published February 24, 2023

Frank talks about the WhatTheyThink Printing Outlook 2023 report. He traces a continuum from a 2000 RIT report projecting the industry from 2000 to 2020 and notes that the industry is now on a trajectory that will see growth for the next 20 years. There is meaningful data and commentary about the industry.

Frank is Book Smart

Published February 17, 2023

Print books continue to outsell ebooks. Ebooks are not as impressive on a shelf as print books are. They make you look smarter. No one can see your ebooks. Plus, you can sell or donate or lend your print books.

Frank and Printing's Scrapheap

Published February 10, 2023

Printing presses used to last almost forever—typical of mechanical devices—and used presses always found a market, often overseas. Until recently; there is now such a glut of used equipment that for the first time in history, presses are going to scrap. At the same time, digital devices do not have the same life spans which is why most are leased.

Frank Wastes Paper

Published February 3, 2023

One benefit of a newspaper is the paper. Frank repeats himself as he bemoans the loss of newspapers and the paper that he gets as a residual benefit. He envisions a world in which we must purchase waste paper for packing, starting fires, and lining bird cages.

Frank Goes Back to the Future

Published January 27, 2023

Frank looks into the past of predicting the future. As the Internet began to grow and usurp printed products in 2000, a number of studies were undertaken to understand future impacts. There is no doubt that the Internet has had as profound effect on printing as printing had on human communication.

Frank Is Old School

Published January 20, 2023

Frank rants about the high prices of textbooks. Barnes & Noble built bookstores on or near college campuses in order to get the textbook business. Amazon also entered the market with e-versions as well as print versions. College kids pay the price.

Frank and the "Personal Librarian"

Published January 13, 2023

Belle Da Costa Green was the librarian for J. Pierpoint Morgan, the richest man in the world. He hired her in 1904 to help him build one of the greatest libraries in the world. She became its first director in 1924. She was one of the first women to succeed in a male-dominated world. The book “Personal Librarian” by Heather Terrell and Victoria Christopher Murray, tells the story.

Frank Indulges

Published January 6, 2023

Frank goes historic. Before Gutenberg printed the Bible he printed indulgences. These were “passports to Heaven” which allowed you to bypass Purgatory if enough money was paid. There were blank spaces for the variable data. The first thing that Gutenberg printed was a form!

A Printing Carol

Published December 16, 2022

Frank has a visit from the Ghost of Printing Past.

Frank Reads Like the Dickens

Published December 16, 2022

For your holiday reading pleasure, Frank reviews “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” a book about Charles Dickens and the creation of “A Christmas Carol” by Les Standiford.

Frank Is the Bearer of Bad News

Published December 9, 2022

Newspapers continue to move from atoms to bits. Frank uncovers more news about newspapers reducing or cutting their print editions in favor of digital editions. Within the next two decades, the printed newspaper will be a vestigial product.

Frank Gets Branded

Published December 2, 2022

European consultant Eddy Hagen has researched and produced an excellent report on brand colors: “Project BBCG: a Better Brand Color Guide.” It should be required reading for anyone working with Pantone and specialized color systems. Frank the discusses brand colors in the context of the Pantone system.

Frank Is All Charged Up

Published November 18, 2022

Printed batteries are an important part of printed electronics. Until now, the density of the inks required screen printing. Now, a breakthrough allows three inkjet inks to print a battery. This will provide new opportunities for security printing, direct mail, and packaging that literally sings and dances.

Frank's Font of Knowledge Part 2

Published November 11, 2022

In this second part of Frank's interview with digital font pioneer Joe Treacy of https://treacyfaces.com, Frank and Joe talk about the current state of typefaces. With more than one million fonts and 20 programs for making digital fonts, there is no end in sight.

Frank's Font of Knowledge

Published November 4, 2022

In this first part of two videos, Frank talks with Joe Treacy of TreacyFaces, one of the pioneers in digital fonts. He began making fonts in 1984, before PostScript and “desktop publishing.” His library now includes 500 fonts.

Frank Reads the Classifieds

Published October 28, 2022

Frank found a 1975 article about the New York Times’ first entry into cold type (aka photocomposition). They initially used an MGD MetroSet CRT phototypesetter to set the classified section (what used to take three days was cut to 20 minutes). John Werner, then Director of Prepress Operations, was in charge of that transition and is quoted in the article.

Frank Toots His Horn (Books)

Published October 21, 2022

Frank shows his latest acquisition: an 1896 "History of the Horn Book." Horn books date back to the 1500s and were used to teach the alphabet. They were very common during the American Colonial period.

Frank Talks Paper

Published October 14, 2022

Frank comments on paper shortages affecting the book industry. As mills close down, book publishers have been hard-pressed (no pun intended) to find paper. They have been applying narrower margins and negative letterspacing to squeeze more lines on a page to cut paper use.

Frank Stops the Presses

Published October 7, 2022

Frank bemoans the “electronic-ification” of American newspapers and traces the evolution that went from hot-metal type, to flongs, to curved plate cylinders for high-speed rotary presses, to offset printing with negative film and aluminum plates, and to CTP (computer-to-plate). He predicts that circulation drops will move some newspapers to rollfed inkjet and the only thing that might be displayed might be a PDF file.

A Frank Conversation

Published September 30, 2022

Frank is intrigued by a book produced in 1983 by graphic designers Milton Glaser and Jean Michel Folon called "A Conversation." The book is all images; one of the designers began an image and the other finished it. Seemingly printed on one long continuous sheet of paper, it folds out to over 19 feet long. (Frank and his detectives figured out how it was actually produced.) It, perhaps literally, stretches the definition of book.

Frank’s E Books

Published September 23, 2022

Frank tells a tale of three books, each with 50,000 words and none of those words use the letter e. Ernest Wright’s book “Gadsby” in 1939 was the first, followed by Georges Perec’s 1969 “La Disparition” in French and its English translation “The Void” translated by Gilbert Adair. Try writing a sentence without the letter e. It’s not easy. (Obviously the authors’ names didn’t count.)

Frank Gets Marked Up

Published September 16, 2022

Frank discusses mark up for typesetting. Once upon a time, typesetting began with a typewritten manuscript. Typographic format was communicated with marked-up instructions. The typesetting person then followed these instructions to provide the specified font, size, etc. He shows off the special copyfitting rulers and tools that were used to determine copy depth and page count.

Frank Remembers Bookbuilders of Boston

Published September 9, 2022

Formed in 1937, the Bookbuilders of Boston was an acclaimed organization that supported the book publishing industry. Sadly, it just closed down. Through its workshops, meetings, and annual events, it educated generations of book professionals. Frank has saved most of the annual catalogs from their annual book awards.

Frank is Powerpointless

Published September 2, 2022

Frank takes us back to a time before electronic presentations. He shows us an overhead transparency projector and a Kodak Ektamatic 35mm slide projector. These are from the time before Aldus Persuasion, MS Powerpoint, and Apple Keynote.

Frank Under the X-Ray

Published August 26, 2022

Frank discusses a project to X-ray pages from a Gutenberg Bible, Caxton’s Canterbury Tales, and a Korean Buddhist page from 1100 AD. The goal is to see if there is any relationship—in terms of ink, paper, or other properties—between European printing and earlier Asian printing. Maybe they will find Gutenberg’s DNA.

Frank On Paper

Published August 19, 2022

Frank discovers a study that says offices still run on paper, and harkens back to the predictions of a paperless office. Copiers and printers increased paper use just as personal computers and the Internet decreased the need for paper.

Invitation to Frank

Published August 12, 2022

Frank found two books of engraved invitations that graced the counters of small printers throughout America from the 1960s through the 1980s. For weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, confirmations, and other memorable events, you went to the printer down the street and ordered them from these books. Today, much of the printed engraved invitation world is ordered online. Unless you use Evite.

Frank: The Man in Black[letter]

Published August 5, 2022

Not since "Quark On Broadway"... The world may not be ready for this. Frank channels his inner Johnny Cash in a rendition of "I've Been Every Place Man" re-imagined as "I've Set Every Face Man." Rob Romano did the editing and his counseling bills have been paid.

Frank Zappar

Published July 29, 2022

Frank talks about the integration of print and augmented reality (AR) using your phone. A free app called Zappar lets museum visitors perform audio and video self tours of the exhibits by scanning printed codes. And a printed book reproduces those codes and gives visitors a virtual and portable museum.

Frank Looks at Dave Seat's US Linotype Tour

Published July 22, 2022

Master mechanic Dave Seat is one of the few specialists who keep Linotype and Ludlow type casters running. His recent visit to the Museum of Printing lasted three days, and was part of an extended tour where he will visit more than 20 locations in 11 states that still have this vintage equipment.

Frank Ad Nauseam

Published July 15, 2022

Frank opines about how advertising is following eyeballs from print to digital media. Within a year, digital media will exceed print media in terms of advertising revenue. Magazines and newspapers are moving to digital subscribers to keep their advertising base, as Facebook and Google monopolize advertising.

In Memoriam: Keith Davidson, 1936–2022

Published July 11, 2022

Frank Romano remembers Keith Davidson, founder and former president of Xplor International, who passed away on June 28.

Frank Is on the Alert

Published July 1, 2022

Frank talks about clipping services and Google Alerts—two methods that are used to find information that appears in print or digital media. He shows the alerts that he receives to keep up with industry news.

Frank Talks to Letterpress Printer Dan Wood

Published June 24, 2022

Frank interviews Dan Wood of DWRI Letterpress in Providence, R.I. Dan is one of the growing number of printers who use wood and metal type to print. Although he specializes in wedding invitations, the company produces a wide variety of letterpress-printed products.

Frank Goes Beyond Paper

Published June 17, 2022

Frank bemoans the digital displacement of print and describes new markets based on substrates other than paper. As the volume of printing on paper declines, printers must find new opportunities in new markets.

Frank Speaks in Tongues

Published June 10, 2022

Frank looks at the typesetting and printing of languages other than English. As usual, he takes us on a little trip through the evolution of type, with the history of Linotype, Monotype, and phototypesetting. He ends with the publication of the Unicode standard. He is the only WTT presenter to ever mention King Farouk.

Frank Rants

Published June 3, 2022

Frank goes off on two rants. First, he reports that some newspapers will not have sports scores from afternoon or evening games. Their front pages will contain commentary and little news. Then, he saw that printers were blamed for errors in ballots and asks who signed off on the proofs.

Frank's Slugfest

Published May 27, 2022

Frank talks about the Ludlow Typograph and the book he wrote about it. Introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, the active production lifespan of the Ludlow lasted just over 80 years, but its impact has continued. As typography evolved from metal, to film to digital, many of the fonts in use were based on hot-metal libraries, especially the Ludlow Typograph. He also demonstrates how to cast a type slug on it.

Frank's Paper Route

Published May 20, 2022

Frank found some official Boston Globe newsboy badges from the 1930s. With the transition from print to digital newspapers, especially weeklies, these “newsies” are now out of work.

Et Tu, Frank?

Published May 13, 2022

Frank bemoans the loss of local bookstores—and takes responsibility for some of it. He shows two books he bought online and one produced via on-demand printing. The changes in the way book buyers—like Frank—buy books has had a profound effect on the local bookstore.

Frank Goes Small

Published May 6, 2022

Frank bemoans the steady decline in the number of small printers—those firms having fewer than 10 and 20 employees. They have largely been replaced with web-based services, office supply services, FedEx Office (Kinkos), and even home printers. He presents a short history of the so-called quick printer.

Frank Gets Evocative

Published April 29, 2022

Frank discusses how typefaces evoke feelings. He shows a few examples and discusses how movies—especially on streaming platforms—TV shows, documentaries, and books use evocative typography to appeal to potential viewers. Each uses type and imagery and there are a multitude of choices. That is why we need a million typefaces.

Frank Kerns Over a New Leaf

Published April 22, 2022

Frank talks about kerning and how it evolved as we moved from wood type up through phototypesetting. A piece of rectangular wood type would be cut to allow tighter spacing with its adjacent character. Fast forward to the 1960s and the advent of the Visual Graphics Corp. PhotoTypositor which introduced the concept of tight spacing to typography.

WhatTheyThink is the official show daily media partner of drupa 2024. More info about drupa programs