New to Typophile? Accounts are free, and easy to set up.
Forgive me if this topic has already been discussed to death before...
There have been a lot of dicussions on Typophile recently that have made me wonder: what would the type industry be like, and what would the public perception of type and typography be, if standard fonts packages were not bundled with operating systems software or word processing software?* (aside from system fonts, of course)
*I believe someone recently mentioned a country where font bundling with OSes is, in fact, illegal.
Just last Friday, I educated a coworker on the wonderful world of fonts, what the actual differences were between fonts like Garamond and Times, and why they cost "so much money," as she put it. After describing all of the basic design and technological components, she completely understood. She also wholeheartedly agreed that people would be much more generally aware, if, instead of receiving a pre-fab fonts package with their software, they were offered the opportunity to choose, say 50 fonts from a larger list. She also said that she would prefer this method.
In my mind, I see the result being a totally different dynamic between the public, and type designers, and their distributors, wherein consumers expect to pay for quality, and are aware that fonts are a consumable good that can help or harm their work, much like a computer, or a piece of software, or a car, or a printer. This would stand in contrast to the current situation, where many people don't even consider fonts to be the work of people, let alone an achievement requiring skill and time. I'd also imagine that this awareness and subsequent attention to a largely rarified and ignored market would drive demand up and prices down. This could also popularize the notion of buying fonts for specific purposes, much like we buy outfits for particular purposes. Of course, the attendant curses of piracy, fads, and pop-culture homogeneity could overrun any positives, I suppose.
Computers and software (and, in a way, the typewriter) have reinforced the idea of fonts as small features of word processing and typing, rather than significant expressive and communicative devices. The OS and software developers remove the necessity of choice, and perpetuate (to some extent) the belief that people don't buy and choose fonts, they select them from menus dictated by software companies. The web completes this triangle of perception by reinforcing the idea that fonts are available for free and commonly exchanged. Would removing fonts from the equation solve some of these problems? Ironically, because of these groups and devices, we are in a unique place in history where the means to output typeset (I use the term loosely) materials are accessible to many at a much lower point of entry, in both price and complexity. Is this an opportunity for positive development, or is this a pipe dream? (ignoring, for a moment, the logistics of changing the current system)
I'm eager to hear more experienced perspectives on this situation, which has been the standard for me throughout my design education and career. I'm particularly interested by the opinions of those of you running your own smaller type businesses.