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Linotype Book Project

About The Project

In 2012, I made a film about the Linotype which only scratched the surface of its impact on society, communication, and journalism. Now, I’m writing a book to share all of the amazing things I’ve learned & discovered since.

This book will be both a historical study of untold Linotype stories and a beautiful coffee-table book filled with amazing images from the world’s best collections of Linotype ephemera.

Newsletter Updates

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Free or pay-what-you-want to further support the research & writing already in progress

Follow along as I research, write, and shape the book into its final form. The only way to learn more is to sign up for the members-only newsletter.

No spam — only updates & stories from the road: secret locations, special photos, and a behind-the-scenes look at the reality of making the book. It might not always be pretty, but it will be fun.

The Road Ahead

  • Where is the original Blower Linotype machine? It hasn’t been seen publicly in three decades.
  • What were the experiences of women & minority populations using the Linotype?
  • Can we find the original 1936 NBC radio broadcast celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Linotype?
  • Why did the Linotype company fail to transition to photo and computer technology?
  • How did a small group of people swindle over $775,000 from the company in 1945?
  • What was the APL (All-Purpose Linotype) and why did it fail so spectacularly?
  • How did the International Typographic Union become so powerful?
  • Why did the New York Times wait 20 years longer than almost anyone else to stop using the Linotype?
  • Why was Ottmar Mergenthaler so angry and depressed at the end of his life?
  • What was the relation between the U.S., U.K., German, and Italian Linotype companies?

Just The Facts, Ma’am

Research locations identified
Spreadsheets already created
Topic ideas for future newsletters
Estimated budget to self-publish the book
Secret custom typeface already in progress
Estimated pages of the final book
Publications currently in the bibliography
Estimated years to finish research & writing

Did you know?

  • The Linotype wasn’t the first (or even the best) typesetting machine, but it suceeded due to overly-aggressive lawyers?
  • Ottmar Mergenthaler was kicked out of his own company because he couldn’t stop tinkering?
  • The author Mark Twain practically went bankrupt funding a machine that was faster at composing type than the Linotype?
  • There was a Twilight Zone television episode centered around a “possessed” Linotype?
  • The venture capitalists behind the Linotype mainly invested so they could break up the printing & typesetting unions?
  • The Linotype company almost went out of business because Mergenthaler submitted a patent for spacing words 49 days too late?

About me

A professional headshot of Doug Wilson, the author, smiling at the camera.

My name is Doug Wilson, and I am a designer, writer, filmmaker, and typographic historian. After the film came out, I thought I was finished with the Linotype — but I was wrong.

I’ve continued to research and collect information about the Linotype with a focus on the larger impact on society and journalism and now, I’m writing a book to share it with you.

Make sure to sign up for the newsletter and follow along on Instagram.