Best distributor for releasing new typefaces?

jaykay109's picture

I had just posted a new topic at http://typophile.com/node/19952 but my post was a bit disorganized and not very popular. So, I'll ask outright here:

Which company (such as T26, Veer, Fonts.com/Monotype, etc.) would all of you professional typographers recommend as far as licensing fonts? Is doing it on your own better? It'd be nice to get a pros-and-cons type of comparison so that more informed decisions could be made next time.

— Josh

andreas's picture

Why you don't release your font through MyFonts.com by yourself? I have the feeling you have big doubts about your contract with T26. Well, its worth the experience, isn't it? BTW, if you release your fonts by yourself, you can made reseller contracts with FSI, Linotype or Monotype and you will get more percentages like through a common (pain in the a$$) designer contract.

--astype.de--

Stephen Coles's picture

There is a 2-3 year old post that covers this very nicely and should still be applicable. Can someone find?

Miss Tiffany's picture

Not sure if any of these are what Stephen was thinking of:

Selling Through a Foundry, Pros & Cons: http://www.typophile.com/node/8695

Selling a font, copyrights included, to a foundry: http://www.typophile.com/node/10363 (short)

Does exclusive mean anything anymore?: http://www.typophile.com/node/7935 (short)

Building up a new foundry: http://www.typophile.com/node/13122

Stephen Coles's picture

Those older ones are missing my comments that were lost when Typophile redesigned. That could be a blessing. Otherwise, you have to seek them out via Google cache.

oldnick's picture

NOT Monotype Imaging, under any circumstances (for reasons I am legally bound not to discuss, at least as far as particulars go)...

Miss Tiffany's picture

My comments are all gone as well. In some cases I'm quite happy about that. :^D

andreas's picture

In 2004 an email from Monotype droped in my mail box with their contracts and some technical stuff (FontSubmissionKit). But some well informed people suggest me to stay from it and don't join fonts.com. Maybe the documents are a bit outdated, but they are no secrets.

After all, the big issue I miss on the side of the big distributers is, they don't see us as partners! A lot of the type designers are well qualified technical font developers too. They deliver a "ready for shipment" product. But in general, their contracts are written in a manner of taking out a maximum of your rights. Some of them are essential goods and not necessary for a simple online distribution.

For a pure online distribution its not necessary to give the rights:

- to modify and convert your fonts
- to customise your fonts for "their" clients
- to bundle your fonts with other products to "new" products (e.g. CDRoms, OEM-bundles, font colletions)
- to sublicense it to other "distribution partners" of theirs

So in the light of this, out of the big five, I can recommend MyFonts.com only.

--astype.de--

fontplayer's picture

On the consumer end, I love Myfonts. It is easy to buy, with good previews. And decent pricing. And the font-maker gets a good deal too. Also you aren't prevented from making other arrangements, as I understand it.

You can't beat win-win-win. I like it so much it is one of only four sites on my font links page.

Stephen Coles's picture

We should make the distinction between a "foundry" and a "reseller". Basically, you have two options:

  1. Submit fonts to an existing foundry (i.e. Emigre, FontFont, Font Bureau, ITC).
  2. Create your own foundry and sell those fonts through resellers like MyFonts, FontShop, Fonts.com, and Phil's Fonts.

If you have several fonts ready to release and wish to create your own label (option 2), there is no reason you need to be limited to one of the resellers. Just remember that there is a lot of work besides font creation that goes into creating your own label - writing and maintaining a EULA, for instance.

There are other advantages to going the first route. An exclusive foundry like FontFont will do the distribution and promotion for you (with your input and collaboration, of course). Your work will be advertised around the world in various outlets and in printed catalogs, and it will be attached to a trusted, established brand. In most cases, the foundry will be carried by more than one reseller, further extending your reach. Some foundries will also help you complete the development of your fonts.

Some like to release their early, more experimental work for free or through MyFonts. Once they've cut your teeth and created something they feel really confident about, they look to an established label to help it sell well.

Many designers release work through various foundries throughout their career (Xavier Dupré, Akira Kobayashi, Jim Parkinson). Sometimes a certain style simply fits in one foundry's library better than another's.

Much of this decision depends on how much time and effort you're willing to put into promotion and business, and what type of fonts you've created. Tell us more.

Stephen Coles's picture

And a point of clarification about companies that own both a foundry/label and a reseller operation.

Monotype is a foundry. Fonts.com is a reseller.
Both are owned by Monotype Imaging.

FontFont is a foundry. FontShop.com is a reseller.
Both are owned by FSI FontShop International.

GarageFonts is a foundry. Phil's Fonts is a reseller.

Umbrella* is (sort of) a foundry. Veer is a reseller.

*I take mild exception to the claim that Umbrella is a "Veer Exclusive". Many of the fonts in the collection, such as Underware's and Mark Simonson's, are available elsewhere. Rebuttal, Grant?

andreas's picture

Thank you Stephen, the line between foundry and distributer is often not quite clear. In case of FSI & the FontShops and Bitstream/MyFonts, these are separate legal units you can deal separately. But fonts.com is Monotype Imaging, one legal entity.

--astype.de--

.00's picture

Whether you choose to work with a reseller or a foundry there really are no words to express the feelings when you get that royalty statement and you see that your take on a sale is $2.20. Everyone takes a cut and you the designer are left with the short end of the transaction. Even if you are promised a particular percentage, you have to remember that the reseller may sell to another reseller who then bundles your fonts to another reseller.

Early im my career I Iicensed some fonts to FontHaus, boy, ya gotta love those $3.25 royalty checks. I have a whole bunch in a pile on my desk uncashed. They are worth so much more as a reminder. And those ITC royalties, wow!

My advice is to manage your own intellectual property. An e-commerce web site, a EULA, some marketing, yes it all costs money, but what is that old saying about spending money to make money. But only if you are serious about making some money in the type business. And don't pay any attention to all those Typophile members who keep carping that you can't make money doing type. Those are the people who haven't figured out how to do it. Believe me you can make money in type.

James

PS- Stephen, in a thread like this don't you think you should make it clear that you work for FontShop.

dezcom's picture

James,
Thanks for your insights. I really appreciate your candor.

ChrisL

grumpyoldbugger's picture

I'm sure that everyone knows that Stephen Coles works for Font Shop; 95% of his posts are type suggestions available from FontShop.com.

thierry blancpain's picture

i didnt, but im quite a new guy around here (not that new, but apparently new enough to not know that).

interesting thread anyway, i didnt mean to interrupt the discussion.

dezcom's picture

Actually, I didn't know Stephen worked for FontShop either. His posts always seem helpful and I never noticed a FontShop bias.

ChrisL

Stephen Coles's picture

James - You're right, I should remind folks of that. I lean too heavily on the assumption that Googling my name will make my resume clear.

That said, I don't recommend FontFont to everyone. Nor do I recommend submission to a foundry or reseller to everyone. I was just trying to lay out the other side of the coin as the advantages of the submission approach weren't mentioned.

I’m sure that everyone knows that Stephen Coles works for FontShop; 95% of his posts are type suggestions available from FontShop.com.

Oh, thank god someone is keeping track! You're probably accurate, Mr. Grump -- at least for the Type ID Board, of which FontShop is a sponsor. I think every type supplier should be in there, suggesting relevant fonts.

If any of my posts are completely unhelpful, please let me know.

silas's picture

Joshua:

Your previous thread piqued my interest. As the most recent (Jan 2005) T26 caretaker I witnessed enough to keep me from ever releasing a font through most of the names being dropped here, especially T26.

This being a public forum, I'll leave it at that. I realize that you already have your doubts and feel a bit cheated. I'm just here to confirm your gut reaction.

On the brighter, 'build a better mansion' side of things, Google my name and you'll see what my associates and I are doing about it.

andreas's picture

Silas,

why so shy? You are the one of the heads of TheTypeTrust. I have seen this site for the first time now. So its a coorporation like the village thing? Would be nice if you guys would bring in some more info.

http://www.typetrust.com -
http://vllg.com

--astype.de--

Stephen Coles's picture

The site is beautiful and works beautifully, Silas. Nice work.

Bald Condensed's picture

> I’m sure that everyone knows that Stephen Coles works for FontShop; 95% of his posts are type suggestions available from FontShop.com.

I’m sure that everyone knows that Stephen Coles is a extremely valued contributor to Typophile; 95% of his posts are very useful type suggestions, often extensive lists of alternatives and elaborate explanations.

dezcom's picture

Amen Yves.

ChrisL

grumpyoldbugger's picture

Type Trust and Village are all a bunch of weanies. If they were any good they could stand on their own like men, and not huddle together like a bunch of girls. They're both ripoffs of My Fonts, as are Font Shop and Veer, which you expect from companies based in San Francisco and Canada.

michaelbrowers's picture

I thought Stephen's post was helpful and I failed to see any bias in it... and as Stephen pointed out there is nothing wrong with type suppliers suggesting fonts from places they are associated with.

Bald Condensed's picture

> Type Trust and Village are all a bunch of weanies. If they were any good they could stand on their own like men, and not huddle together like a bunch of girls. They’re both ripoffs of My Fonts, as are Font Shop and Veer, which you expect from companies based in San Francisco and Canada.

Grumpy Old Bugger, it doesn't surprise me you are hiding behind an anonymous alias. I think this kind of abuse is unwarranted and adds little to nothing to the discussion at hand. If you want to contribute please try to be a little more meaningful and produce some arguments instead of whining like a spoiled brat. We're all adults here.

I suggest you clean up your act or prepare yourself to get kicked off the board.

neil summerour's picture

Well, Josh...you are asking questions that I did years ago. I can sympathize. But I think I have a unique perspective on this.

I released my first few fonts with T26 several years ago and continue to release with them. I was so eager, so willing to do whatever I needed to get published. Despite what anyone says, how they put it, or whatever degree of cool bravado they might toss out...it's really cool to see your fonts for sale, to see them being used, to see them in print. In time, that cool factor evolves into 'what can I do to make more money, what can I do to get recognized more' and so on. I think people on this post have offered some great advice, but it is important to realize...you ultimately can control this. I sell my work with T26, Veer, MyFonts and my and Silas' new baby, TypeTrust. I appreciate them all.

I have tried it all. Small foundry, large foundry, self-publish...they all have their benefits and each has benefitted me. The attitude I have taken of late is that I love type and I want it diefied and its creators as much as possible. Greater attention to detail, perfection of the craft, finding niches that I can explore creatively, using my resources to create a platform that I can present my work and others that truly showcases the artist's work. It sounds a little over blown, but it is an exploration...the same as picking up the pencil and sketching something out on paper to see if it works....sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

The important thing to realize is that there really isn't one right answer. Just keep trying, know that you will never do your 'best work' with any one arrangement, and sometimes even the coolest typeface won't make you a dime and the one you spent the least time on will buy you a car.

Keep sketching. Every 'successful' type designer started somewhere.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Grumpyoldbugger, we're all entititled to hold grudges (I guess), but you might make a better case if you present some facts instead of just spewing negative drivel.

grumpyoldbugger's picture

Most of the stuff being published nowadays is aweful. In my day publishing a type design was a serious undertaking, and was an expensive venture. You had to be a big company with big budgets, so the typefaces were better: I.T.C. were the leaders in type development with teams of type designers.

If you look at 99% of what's published by My Fonts and their rip-off competitors, it's crap. And of the 1% which isn't crap, almost all of it is by older guys who know a thing or two, like Nick Shinn and Eric Spekerman.

Those are facts, not "negative drivel".

Joe Pemberton's picture

That's a symptom of digitization, (democratization of the tools and of the delivery mechanisms), not a symptom of bad business practices... There are a million lame podcasts too, and a million lame cameraphone pics going around, but overall, the net effect is better podcasts and better photos.

So, I don't buy the general sentiment that the type industry is on it's way downhill. I just see that the number of typefaces has exploded and the median quality suffers, but the best of the best is still happening at Village, Underware, OurType, FontFont, Simonson Studio, Terminal Design, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Stephen Coles's picture

Word up, Joe.

But I do agree with old grumpyface that the quality of some once-venerable foundries has decreased, as they are accepting subpar submissions rather than using a talented core of people, whether inhouse or freelance regulars. The bulk of the best work has shifted significantly from the larger veteran manufacturers to smaller foundries and independent designers.

andreas's picture

"Most of the stuff being published nowadays is aweful. In my day publishing a type design was a serious undertaking, and was an expensive venture."

Partly true - in the "old days" you find lots of rip-offs, clones and many creepy types too. - The overall amount was smaller, since all things have to be build and stored physically.

But this is an other topic, nothing to do with the pratice of publishing and contracting today.

So, please don't hijack this thread, start a new one, I'm sure it will be intresting.

MyFonts is distributing (not publishing) fonts from everyone with fair conditions. Its like google or ebay. Don't blame the messenger.

--astype.de--

grumpyoldbugger's picture

Thanks for the links to Typographica.com. I hadn't ever seen that site before.

"There are a million lame podcasts too, and a million lame cameraphone pics going around, but overall, the net effect is better podcasts and better photos."

As opposed to the podcasts and cameraphone pics of the late 1960s?

silas's picture

g.o.b. :

All your talk of 'back in my day' makes me wonder when your day really was. Are you harkening back to the early days of digital type or the all but forgotten paste-up days of the "late 1960's"?

In any case, those days are over. Your exaggerated rants are heartily amusing but ultimately distracting if you're just going to make some snide, defamatory jabs from behind a mask.

Show your credentials like a real man (or go back to using your normal Typopohile account) to gripe about all us weanies huddling together like girls with our MyFonts rip-offs.

dezcom's picture

I am an old geezer as well. I quite remember plenty of lousy stuff from years back. The difference is, the crap gets buried in the sand and people only remember what they want to remember. In the 50s, lots of very bad typography ended up being used to wrap the garbage. I remember Paul Rand and had the brief privilege of working with him. I also remember plenty of design hacks back then who are just as bad as any recent design hacks. Time sifts our memories and leaves us with the few grains that mean the most to us. Today, the technology speeds up the process so more stuff gets done quicker prompting quicker deadlines and quicker technology to meet them. The percentage is the same but the volume in 10-fold greater. We can't go back to the "good old days" of our youth but we can do what we can to make today work better than it does. This is more likely to succeed if we old fogies teach by example and give reasons with sound judgement spiced with some anecdotes to describe what we mean. We geezers can't just shout "everything you young folks do is wrong" and expect to be listened to. We should be teachers, not impeachers. I'll bet GOB has some sound advice to give and I'll bet that advice would be listened to more with reason than with rant if he would give it a chance?

ChrisL

piccic's picture

"All your talk of ‘back in my day’ makes me wonder when your day really was."

Maybe he lived in Magonza or Venice in the 16th century, and he's a 500-years old vampire. ;)
In fact, I was in Pompeii when the volcano erupted. Hence, my fascination for crude late Roman cursive forms.

Besides Grumpy, no offense for anyone, but the United States are not the only country on earth!

Syndicate content Syndicate content