Foundry as business: What would you ask if you could?

Miss Tiffany's picture

If you had the attention of the people who run the foundries, what would you ask them?

Pixion's picture

-How does your design process / production pipeline look like?
-What kind of checks do you do on fonts prior to release?
-How do you go about hinting (T1, TT, fully rely on 'auto hinting', TT hand hinting)?

Miss Tiffany's picture

Excellent questions, Sebastian. But, I'm more curious about the business side of things and what question others might ask insofar as that is concerned.

david h's picture

as you know -- font is like pen, car, book etc etc, a product; so, anything about marketing; marketing vs. design process

hrant's picture

How do you balance retail and custom work?

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

I think a lot of folks would be curious to know what sort of royalties (both percentage and total cash) an "average" font makes for the designer, and what the range of returns looks like.

T

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Agree on that, I am also very interested in knowing how the general market looks‚ if, and how many fonts different foundries actually sell. We all know there is ignorance among certain people and companies, not actually paying for fonts. Are there any actions taken to those? Do the foundries follow up and check these kind of things?

Another question I have is: What do the foundries do about these piracy-websites that distribute copies of great fonts and give them away for free as truetype-downloads?
I can easily via Google find copies of many fine typefaces.

Mark Simonson's picture

Royalties range from around 15% to 65%. The rate is negotiated between the designer and the distributor and depends on a lot of factors, mainly how much or how little effort the distributor puts into promotion. Exclusivity is another big determining factor as well as whether the designer did all the development work themselves or collaborated on development with the distributor. Of course, if a designer sells directly, he or she gets the whole amount, minus transaction costs, promotion, and support.

Given this, I have set up a little scenario. Let's say you are a type designer with fonts being sold at three different distributors at royalty rates of 15%, 50%, and 65%. Let's say you would like to earn $30,000 per year from font sales. Let's also assume you only sell single fonts at a retail price of $30 each. Here is how it looks:

(The bottom row represents an average of the other three rows.)

This is of course over simplified. Most designers also sell fonts in sets at a discounted price and multi-user licenses at a discounted price. This means less income per font or per user, so you have to sell more to make up the difference. In practice, though, discounts like this tend to increase sales.

Another factor is the retail price. A high price will bring in more money per font, but may result in lower sales. A lower price may increase sales but bring in less money. It's not easy to determine the best price for a font.

Of course, this simple scenario does not include things like development, support, or marketing costs. And lastly, you have to have fonts that people want to buy. This may seem obvious, but is easier said than done.

dezcom's picture

Thanks Mark, well done!

ChrisL

paul d hunt's picture

how do you go about finding clients for custom work?

Mark Simonson's picture

I don't do much custom work. When I do, it's because the client finds me.

I know that for some other type designers, custom work is their bread and butter. Maybe one of them could answer your question better.

paul d hunt's picture

mark, that is what i expected, but i believe that tiffany posted this tread to glean some ideas of potential questions for the upcoming ATypI panel discussion she will be chairing. don't wear yourself out trying to answer everyone's questions in this thread (but don't hesitate to share your wisdom as well!) :^p

dezcom's picture

I hope Tiff will post the outcome of her session there for us stay-at-homers?

ChrisL

Miss Tiffany's picture

:^) Thanks all for your questions. Keep 'em coming.

Yes, Paul is correct. I want to represent more than just my point of view. :^)

Mark Simonson's picture

Oh, I see now. I kind of missed the point of the topic. Never mind.

dezcom's picture

How do you go about marketing your typefaces? Do you sell the site for its value or talk about individual typefaces?

What is a breakdown of marketing outreachh?
Direct mail percentage? Print ad percentage? web ads percentage?

ChrisL

Thomas Phinney's picture

One thing that is quite interesting is the distribution of sales for different fonts in the library.

If you order the fonts in the Adobe Type Library by sales rank, and then do a bar graph of the units or dollars sold, it looks like a parabolic curve. It's really striking, and surprised me when I first saw the figures. It's like (speaking off the cuff here, without looking at figures) even the twentieth ranked font probably sells 50x as much as the median ranked font.

I assume it's similar for any type foundry with a large number of fonts, but I'd be curious to hear confirmation of that theory....

T

Nick Shinn's picture

Thomas, that's Zipf. (Not Zapf :-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipf's_law

paul d hunt's picture

i'm editing this post to clarify my intent of my poorly worded previous post:
for a panel discussion on the business of type, i think a discussion of what kinds of considerations to take into account when quoting for custom work, some kind expansion on what Leslie Cabarga writes about in his business section of his book Logo, Font & Lettering Bible would be interesting and informative.

jselig's picture

I'd like to know as well. I'd also love to see the answers to the other questions if you are able to get them. :)

hrant's picture

Tiff, what happened with this?

hhp

Miss Tiffany's picture

The question and answer part of the business section of TypeTech ran terribly short because of some other things running long. :^/

hrant's picture

A conspiracy no doubt. :-)

hhp

TBiddy's picture

Any of these questions get answered?

Syndicate content Syndicate content