Sabon Open Type - Adobe vs Monotype

dot dot dot's picture

I need to buy Sabon as an opne type font and I see Adobe lists what they call a standard family package for $99. Over at the Monotype Pro package lists for $158. I thought the price difference might be due to the fact that the Adobe set only has small caps in the roman and that perhaps the Monotype edition may have small caps in all the families. But I checked and this is not the case.

And I see the Monotype says it's a semi bold while Adobe says their's is bold.

Does anyone have any idea why the price difference? Am I getting the same font and cut with both packages?

Thanks for any help you can offer.


Stephen Coles's picture

Keep in mind there are three different cuts of Sabon. Monotype Sabon, Linotype Sabon, and the most recent digitization: Sabon Next

dot dot dot's picture

OK. Is there any consensus on one cut being better than the other? And where would the Adobe version fit in? I'd rather get the bast version for setting books regardless of the price.

And I don't see the Next version in an open type version which rules it out.

Stephen Coles's picture

Adobe sells the Linotype version -- as do FontShop, MyFonts, Phil's Fonts, and

I can't speak to the design differences between the MT and LT versions as I haven't used and compared them. Hopefully someone can chime in there.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I've worked with Sabon Next and found it to be quite nice. However, I've not worked with the others so perhaps I can't chime in properly. However, you might find one of these threads useful.

Stephen Coles's picture

The biggest problem with Sabon Next is that it's only available as a $995 collection. I'm all for selling packages over single weights (Veer manages this pretty well) but I think that sort of cost turns away a lot of otherwise interested buyers. Lino could split it up into more manageable $300 packages.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I'd agree that they are proably missing out on many customers in only selling as one package.

Palatine's picture

Why not try Van Bronkhorst's MVB Verdigris:

It's an amazingly good text face, similar to Sabon, with some even considering it a better achievement, though without Sabon Verdigris would not exist.

In any case, Verdigris is certainly worth looking into. In terms of price, it's an insane value. You get all the bells and whistles except for swashes and ornaments, which Bronkhorst claimed he wanted to avoid, anyway.

Bald Condensed's picture

I own a license. I agree. The only problem is, there's no OpenType version available (yet) and John specifically asked for it.

dot dot dot's picture

Thanks for all the comments. I'd love to go with the Sabon Next but the price is beyond the budget. The specs call for Sabon and the deadline approaches so I'm just going to pick it up from Linotype and get to work.

I guess I'm going to have think about upgrading my Fontlab and start to convert my Type 1 fonts to OpenType. But that's another discussion entirely...

Turning's picture

er? Who are these people who consider it a better achievement? If you come out with a comment like this actually back it up with some facts.

istr's picture

The Difference between the MT pro and all other "classical" Sabon variants including MT Sabon (not Sabon next, which is in fact a different type face) is the number of characters included.
For example, it includes the ligatures "ffi" and "ffl". These are not available within LT Sabon, Adobe Sabon or MT Sabon.
If you have a look at the character maps (e.g. at -> search for "Sabon Pro" -> "Try first - click here" -> "Character Map") you will see the difference.

Miguel Sousa's picture

> I guess I’m going to have think about upgrading my Fontlab and start to convert my Type 1 fonts to OpenType. But that’s another discussion entirely…

I'll bet you'll start thinking twice about this being a good idea, as soon as you try converting the first type family...

charles ellertson's picture

You need to check of course, but as I remember, the Monotype EULA doesn't permit the end user to modify the font for his/her own use. Adobe on the other hand, does. It is not hard to make ligatures, or for that matter, many other characters which are simply accented. No foundry to date includes all the characters you might need.

As to Sabon, I think Monotype at some point licensed the font from Linotype. The reason I think this is that the italic is the wide-set version you get from the days when the Linotype linecaster used duplexed mats, so the ital had the same setwidth (perforce) as the roman.

When Linotype went from metal to film, they kept the same italic, even though the technical reasons for it were gone. When Tschichold dew up Sabon, he made three versions: One for Linotype, one for Monotype, and one for Stempel for hand-setting. The Linotype and Monotype versions were drawn with the limitations of machine setting in mind. Monotype and Linotype (metal) machines were quite different, so the compromises were different.

If one were to argue which is best, it would be the Stempel; as a hand-set font, it had none of the mold problems of Linotype nor the unit-based compromises of Monotype. And of course, the Stempel is the one we can't get.

I have owned both Linotype & Monotype PostScript fonts, though the Monotype I bought was back in the early 1990s, thinking it might have a better italic than the Linotype. It was exactly the same. So I recut it, looking at the Stempel to a large degree.

As to the "new" Sabon, well, what was Sabon ever but a nice Garamond, with some thought into it to have harmonious versions for differing technologies. As those technologies are no longer used (i.e., no longer impose restrictions ), The "New" Sabon is just another nice Garamond variant. But to my eye, it certainly isn't Sabon. I'm sure I'll take some heat over that statement, so let me say it is only my opinion.

As to converting Type 1 to OpenType, it is more a matter of saving work you have put into them rather than saving money. It takes me about 8 hours to convert & write features for a new OT version of the roman text font. Less for italic & much less for display. Part of that is getting all the superscripts for footnote calls, and numerator/denominators for unlimited fractions, and then kerning them all. Etc. But the way I work isn't likely one you could use; all our old Type 1 fonts were database versions (all glyphs in one font), which saves me a bunch of time. And I have Y&Y TeX tools, which lets me make a PFA from a PFB, then run a script I wrote to change all the old names (like Asmall to A.smcp). I do most of the "features" work in a text editor outside FontLab & can get a list of the characters I want for each feature from the AFM. Likely you could do this with Python & any text editor that let you shift into a column mode, but it all takes time, and if you don't have something you've worked hard on in your Type 1 fonts, you would likely be better off to re-buy them.

Miguel Sousa's picture

> No foundry to date includes all the characters you might need.

That's a big statement. Would you mind to elaborate? Essentially, I'm wondering about what might be missing. Thanks.

charles ellertson's picture

Sure. But first, this is the second time in one day you've come at me, so as a preamble, I'll admit (even state!) that I generalize a fair bit, particularly on an internet forum. So when I say "No foundry to date includes all the characters you might need" I'm making presumptions about both (1) material you might need to set, and (2) what restrictions might apply to font selection.

As to the first: I set books for university presses. So for example: Some of these presses in the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona) have accepted manuscripts which include significant amounts of Navajo and Apache. Orthographies differ, but one common one is to use certain vowels that have both an acute accent and an ogonek. These are not in Unicode as precomposed characters I believe, so maybe that doesn't count. The point is the comp faced with setting the material has to come up with a solution, and that solution will not be found looking for a typeface that has these characters. They are easy to make, but you do have to make them.

There are presses in the Midwest and Northeast that handle different Native American Languages. Same problem with characters not available.

Or if this is too esoteric, how about transliterated Arabic? Comes up a lot these days. I grumble about having to set the underdots, but am told that without them, it is very hard to tell just which Arabic character is being represented. Mainly, these are Dd, Hh, Ss, Tt, and Zz with dotbelow. They are in Unicode, I believe Latin Extended Additional. I haven't found them in any Adobe, Monotype, or Linotype Opentype font. So again, the comp has to come up with a solution. Now you can set a period (full stop), change the point side (smaller), lower it, kern it back under the letter, set the next letter & kern it "forward" to where it should fall.

One down, 749 to go.

Just one reason I rant about EULAs. There is no difference in the look of the final product, the printed book, but there is a hell of a lot of difference in effort, and resulting cost to the publisher. There is also the matter that publishers today don't regard the printed book as the final product. For the XML file to be useful, somebody is going to have to go into it & change all those kerned periods (which also have code to change & varying position for different letters & font styles) to the proper Unicode index. I suppose you don't have to change it to the precomposed glyph (that would involve more searches) but to just the combining diacritic.

As for me, if the EULA allows, I'll "modify" the font by making up the character. Which reminds me, hove about putting the combining diacritics in fonts?

Now if Native American and Arabic Transliterations aren't enough, you can add "Sanskrit". We got one job from a publisher that usually set their books in house because they couldn't set the transliterated (Latin alphabet) characters (See ISAT at Wikipedia). These too are in Unicode.

Or the scholars who deal with Old English. They want more than their (frequently missing) yoghs. Take a look at the Junicode fonts down in the private use area. And some of these scholars have submitted a set of characters to the Unicode consortium, & I'd bet they will be added.

So much for (1).

I told a little fib earlier -- because the solution for a comp encountering a need for these characters is not "looking for a font." Font selection in scholarly publishing is done by the book designer. They are not going to use Junicode, or Gentium for that matter. As useful as these fonts may be for manuscripts (typescripts, really), they are not going to be acceptable to any book designer at any publishing house I know of. Some designer's will consult with the comp about font selection in a book, most won't. Their attitude is they want it set in Minion or Scala or whatever, and it is the comp's job to figure out how to do so.

A P.S by-the-way. Using InDesign, take a look at Monotype Bulmer OT sold through Adobe. Set the fi-ligature followed by an apostrophe. oops. Best I can tell, the class code for the _f set (which contains all the f-ligatures) is set up to allow class-based kerns on the left only. But somehow the kern for "f" "apostrophe" & a whole host of punctuation following the "f" got included in the class-based kerning. All the kerns are on the right, for every member of the class. Fortunately I have the Adobe EULA on this one and can go in & fix it, before I have to set a book where the main character has the nickname "Jiffi"

The point isn't to pick on type designers or foundries. How can they possibly foresee all the uses their work will be put to. The point is that the "font" isn't done when released by the foundry. It never was, even in the days of hand-set type -- quick, "where's the saw?"

Miguel Sousa's picture

> But first, this is the second time in one day you’ve come at me, so as a preamble

Mere coincidence, don't take it personally.

Thanks for the explanation. Your previous post makes much more sense now. I'm not surprised that foundries don't carry fonts containing the characters your work requires. Scholarly publishing is indeed a very specific segment of the market.

> The point is that the “font” isn’t done when released by the foundry. It never was, even in the days of hand-set type

Another generalization, perhaps?... Again, rest assure that I'm not picking on you. Seriously.

William Berkson's picture

>Another generalization

There's nothing wrong with generalization, if it's true. Charles's "Where's the saw?" refers to kerning in the days of metal type. I believe the printer had to do physical work on the type with a saw to get a nicely kerned title. So the metal font was not completely 'done' in the sense of being ready to use for any purpose.

kentlew's picture

Charles --

I always enjoy reading your comments, and I respect your vast experience in book composition.

However, I believe you were mistaken above when you stated that Tschichold drew three versions of Sabon, one for each of the three technologies. I'm pretty certain that the original brief was for a single design that would set identically in all three technologies.

That proved an enormous challenge, especially addressing the conflicting limitations of the Monotype and Linotype. The resulting design was constrained to an 18-unit system (Monotype's primary technical restriction) and the italic had to be duplexed to the roman (Linotype's technical primary limitation).

As far as I know, the Stempel version could just go along for the ride. The main advantage of the Stempel fonts was that they were made in larger display sizes, something that was not done for the machines. As a consequence, I believe that the larger sizes had some additional refinements, since they no longer needed to be identical to Mono or Lino versions.

This would be the reason that your MT version exhibited the same wide italics as the LT version. They were, in fact, the same originally.

Now, why the digitizations retained the original machine-metal limitations, that's another question . . . one which presumably Sabon Next was meant, in part, to answer. But then, it took off on a slightly different track.

Perhaps when you release Sabon from the technical constraints that gave birth to it, it ceases to be the Sabon that we know and love.

-- K.

kentlew's picture

P.S. For any who are willing to wade through an ancient discussion, there was a detour into quite a bit of talk about Mono/Lino constraints and Sabon back in this "Trapping" thread. You have to scroll down, past the usual mud-slinging, to the bottom of the first page and on to the second.

-- K.

.00's picture

Even if the EULA does not allow modifications, one could contact the designer of the font to add the necessary characters. Perhaps this is easier to do with a smaller shop (and an advantage with working with independent designers).

A publisher of travel books licensed a large group of our OT fonts which have a large Latin glyph set. What the fonts did not have were characters for Pinyin transliteration. We added these characters at no additional charge (the license they bought was fairly substantial), and will now continue to include these characters in all our future fonts.

And yes, including combining accents is what will be required on all fonts from now on.

charles ellertson's picture

>>Even if the EULA does not allow modifications, one could contact the designer of the font to add the necessary characters. Perhaps this is easier to do with a smaller shop (and an advantage with working with independent designers).>>

Well, as one small voice in the wilderness, my solution to foundries that don't allow modification for ones own use is to not use those fonts. Why should I pay to have a dot or macron put under or over a letter? And you have to understand this whole matter of "paying." When a publisher accepts a manuscript, a lot of people wind up with their hands on it. The designer is the person who selects the typefaces. There are obviously some restrictions put on him/her. Sometimes the designer is a freelancer, sometime an employee of the publishing company or university press or whoever. The minute some foundry starts forcing the letter of the EULA, the press director is going to issue an edict "only use fonts from foundries that don't do this" -- or since most directors handle things in a generalized manner -- "Only use Adobe fonts," letting the designer come back with a list of foundries who permit modifications to a font.

Even if you are willing to make up the required characters for free, there is a time factor. You gonna do the work & get it shipped in an hour?

And if you are going to charge – the old practice from the days of the Linotron 202 for example. Linotype’s practice was to make up the characters (supplemental font), which was available to anybody, EXCEPT as a concession to the guy who paid, it wasn’t advertised or listed in the catalogue. So unless you saw a lot of work & poked about, you didn’t know those supplemental sorts were available. If you’re gonna charge and then make it available to all & publicize this, you’ll get grumbles from the person who had to pay extra.

My personal feeling about EULA’s is that whoever licenses the type promises two things: (1) They won’t bring any discredit to the foundry, and (2) they won’t cost the foundry a sale. The rest is the language of Lawyers.

Now there are a few who say, “No. My little gem is perfect as is, you can’t do anything to it, including changing the kerning.” I won’t buy those fonts, and will turn down any book where the designer has selected such a font, unless they can show me a site license which covers both the publisher and their subcontractors – which doesn’t happen. Ever. And does “no kerning” imply you can’t “track” the font? Or, using InDesign, ignore the metrical kerning & go with ID’s optical kerning & tracking? Makes no sense, just like making up accents via kerning, size change, etc. in an “applications program” instead of making up the character in FontLab.

And Miguel (if I may) what isn’t a specific segment of the market?

And Kent, likely you’re right. I had some fleeting conversation with Carter about Sabon, but probably mis-remembered what he described as the problems implementing it. I always wondered why the italic foundry version chopped off the terminal on the “j” and others didn’t. But if you look in the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TYPEFACES, the italic shown is surely the Spempel (it even says so), and if you look at the Linotype version of the italic, the spacing & even some of the letterforms are quite different. But I imagine you’re right that Tschichold only made one set of drawings.


charles ellertson's picture

P.S. Oh. It finally sank in, maybe the Stempel specimen shown in EOTF is a display size, though it includes a bold. Much nicer italic anyway.

John Nolan's picture

I agree with you. In most cases "no modification" clauses in EULAs mean "no sale" to me.

I could negotiate with the foundry, but with a one man operation like mine the sale is small; I have no clout, and may as well just move on. I can always buy from Adobe, Village Type, ShinnType, or one of the other foundries that allow modifications.

typequake's picture

I agree with you. In most cases “no modification” clauses in EULAs mean “no sale” to me.

Could also mean: a standard clause that's unfair to consumers and therefore not binding.

k.l.'s picture

I know the complaints about typefaces lacking accents for setting Sanskrit. The problem which I see -- I mean, for foundries to support these special accented glyphs -- is that university/scholarly segment is not really a market. A generalization, but at least true for Germany: Universities/scholars don't have a budget for fonts, nor do certain publishers of scientific books. Some even ask authors to "design" books on their own. And then ask university departments or authors to finance the printing. This is especially the case for doctoral theses which must be published ... (To counter my own generalization: There are publishers of scientific books who do well designed and produced books.)

But it would really be great if there were a few solid text faces equipped for setting scientific books. Just like Adobe added polytonic Greek to some. I also wished that -- since you mentioned it -- Monotype would extend Bulmer to cover accented glyphs required for Sanskrit &c. It's wonderful typeface for this kind of books.

Even if you are willing to make up the required characters for free, there is a time factor. You gonna do the work & get it shipped in an hour?

Hm. I thought that for this kind of books it were better to rely on three, four, five typefaces which have proven or been adjusted/extended to work well instead of making a quick decision to use something "new" for each title.

charles ellertson's picture

Karsten, I agree with you. I wasn't asking Adobe -- or any other foundry -- to fill out Latin Extended A & B, or Latin Additional. The original point was that no font comes from the foundry ready for all uses, and a compositor has to adapt. Was true in the metal era, too. Many technical books had to be set Monotype, where a certain "hand setting" was possible. As a compositor, I view PostScript as a wonderful development. It is only certain EULA's I view with scorn.

The "time factor" you quoted applied to fonts needing foundry modification. In our shop, it isn't too unusual for a comp to ask me to make up a character RIGHT NOW. So I do, unless it is something tricky.

Academic publishing in the States is a bit different than Europe, but it seems designers are the same everywhere -- gotta use what's new & different.

But I tell you what. If your brother will send me his Bulmer, with an Adobe license (which proves he owns it), I will add the glyphs needed for Sanskrit, using the Latin alphabet. And no, nobody else or any other fonts, this is just my way of apologizing for taking up so much of the forum's bandwidth. Unless someone pipes in & tells me this is unlawful, of course . . .


k.l.'s picture

The original point was that no font comes from the foundry ready for all uses, and a compositor has to adapt.

Fully agreed. Personally I don't use typefaces that I am not allowed to modify for the reasons you mentioned.
I think in case their EULA doesn't allow it, I'd nevertheless ask foundries if they would allow modifications for personal use; what's important at least to me is that one doesn't redistribute the modified version in any way, or make modifications for others.

charles ellertson's picture

. . . what’s important at least to me is that one doesn’t redistribute the modified version in any way, or make modifications for others.

Pretty much. Since the font will be shown in some form -- printed or displayed on a monitor -- I would also want to do a good enough job so the foundry would have no reason to complain about the quality of the modification. As far as font work for others, If the font is not going to anyone who has not already purchased it and holds a valid license, I don't see the harm, but maybe I'm overlooking something. I don't do this as I feel our fonts are a competitive advantage in the composition business, but of course I'm prejudiced.

Marcel-'s picture

And I have Y&Y TeX tools, which lets me make a PFA from a PFB, then run a script I wrote to change all the old names (like Asmall to A.smcp).

That sounds interesting. I also use TeX, but I get a hell of a job when I need to re-encode a font, e.g. to use superscripts for footnotes or small caps. Do you mind sharing your script (I am a Linux user, so I can use a lot of script languages)?

Many thanks in advance!

charles ellertson's picture


You need something like RENAMECH, originally a part of a Y&Y TeX package. Y&Y is gone, but as I remember, Berthold gave all his ancillary programs to the TeX User's Group, so they may have the routine. If you have RENAMECH.EXE, you can write a simple search & replace file to run on both the .PFA and the .AFM files (you also need PFBTOPFA). When you then open the .PFA in FontLab, the characters will have their new names & the associated metrical data.

This is different than reencoding a font -- you are changing the glyph names, not their location. But Y&Y also wrote routines for reencoding a font; again, I'd get up with TUG.

Marcel-'s picture

Thanks Charles, I understand. I think it's not necessary to change the location, just the names. Or I could experiment with different encoding files, like the LCDF Typetools do. I will plunge into this material again and have a look at the TeTeX/TeXLive mailing lists.

Syndicate content Syndicate content