Sunday, March 20, 2011

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 The MIT Press at the signi´Čücantly lower price of $39.95.

The MIT Press edition is the same format and page count as the Blue Pencil version. The former contains a number of minor revisions to the text, correcting facts and adding newly discovered information, along with roughly twenty new photographs. Among the new photographs are several that show white Unimark signs in usage in the early 1970s. (I am still looking for photographs of such signs from the period 1966–1969.) The new edition also has a jacket, but the distinctive binding design of the Blue Pencil Editions book has been retained.

Keen-eyed observers will note that the colors and letters of the various subway lines on the jacket do not match those of today. That is because they are the colors and letters that were in use in 1970 when Unimark International produced the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Manual. The jacket design is based on p. 45 of the manual which reproduces the discs only in black and white accompanied by notes on the proper PMS colors to be used.

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