DISTRIBUTING TYPE

beejay's picture

I was wondering if I could get some input on a couple distribution models.

Myself and two friends spend way too much time designing type, for fun, for our various projects, for camaraderie and for the journey, not necessarily the destination.

We would like to distribute our work (mostly display stuff) ourselves. The problem is the current state of type protection and the mentality of most people who think that type (even the best quality of type) should be free or next to free.

We surely don't want to charge $40 a font. But we don't want to give our stuff away either.

So we were toying with some different ideas. Here's one approach:

) We charge a nominal fee $2.00 or $3.00 for users to obtain a password to enter our download area. The password would change every day. Once the fee was paid, a person could download every font in the download area up to that point. Every time a new font was made available for download, then previous 'customers' would have to pay the nominal fee to get all the new fonts up to that point.

) The trick is to get the tens of thousands of people who expect everything for free to pay something. You'd have to entice them with original fonts made available on a regular basis. Do pirates and freeware users have $3.00 to spare? We don't know. If we proceed with some form of this model, we would find out.

) We would also offer special stuff (packages that we put way more time into) off to the side for 'normal retail' prices.

) We are not as much concerned with the brand as we are with these facts: 1) we are making type 2) we are using our type 3) we'd like others to have the opportunity to use it 4) we don't want to give it away, on general principle and because we'd like to at least pay for the bandwith.

A couple problems:

) Sharing of passwords. Maybe dynamic passwords are possible?

) Charging so little conveys a lack of worth to 'regular font buyers'.

) If a customer entered the download section at the end of a 'time period', they would get EVERY font for the nominal fee. If a customer entered at the beginning of the period, they would only get a couple fonts for their nominal fee.

) E-commerce backbone. Can we devise a system (similar to Amazon's Honor System) that let's people get in and get out without a lot of buttons to push.

) How hardcore is this backlash against type being overpriced. If people in this forum think type at $40 is too much, what are we to think of the general public or Joe Graphic Designer?
What SHOULD a font be priced at?

Any feedback would be appreciated.

bj

hrant's picture

(I think you're on the same mental train as I am with honorware.)

> We charge a nominal fee $2.00 or $3.00 for users to obtain a password ....

Sounds like an interesting basic idea, but does that mean you're charging $2-3 dollars for a cartload of fonts? I don't get it.

> The trick is to get the tens of thousands of people who expect everything for free to pay something.

Yes!
And don't forget poor-but-honest people who would pay good money for fonts, but simply can't afford/justify it: they should be able to pay *something* and get it. Not just to be nice, but because if you say "gimme $100 or get lost", you've just created a pirate, and an enemy.

> You'd have to entice them with original fonts made available on a regular basis.

Note Chank's "Font-of-the-month Club": $100/year, right? And who was saying that he has ~200 members? Not bad.

> we'd like others to have the opportunity to use it

Yes, not least because exposure is a huge marketing advantage.

> Sharing of passwords. Maybe dynamic passwords are possible?

Maybe. But don't fret over that too much anyway.

> Charging so little conveys a lack of worth to 'regular font buyers'.

Yes.

> Amazon's Honor System

What's that?

> How hardcore is this backlash against type being overpriced.

Not really "backlash", but if you try to sell people something for too much money, they'll just sacrifice another little grain of ethics (that's all font piracy really takes away from a person, a grain of ethics) to get the font. So the price of a font should be a grain or a boulder, depending on many things that are usually accounted for (like the quality of the font), but also many things that are not, like the wealth of individual customers.

Example:
Traffic fines in Finland are based partly on income, and the record fine (which was recently levied on an Internet millionaire) was over $100,000... for going [the equivalent of] 45 mph in a 30 mph zone... on a motorcycle!!

> What SHOULD a font be priced at?

A combination of three things:
1. What the designer wants to charge for it.
2. What the market wants the price to be.
3. What the customer can justify to himself.

In the current commercialware world, it's too much of #1, not enough of #3, and -most significantly- *nothing* from #3, the most important one (considering piracy is so easy and widespread/accepted).

hhp

beejay's picture

Joe and Hrant, thanks for the feeback.

Yes, packages are the old standby I suppose, used by Fonthead and FontDiner, among others. It seems evident that Ethan and Stu have been successful with that method.

I am a customer at both places, and I was enticed by 1 or 2 fonts in a package and I bought a set.

I would guess that that method would be the safest, and maybe we'll go that way.

Still, we are curious about enticing the middle of the bell curve -- the users who have never paid a penny for a font yet have thousands on their hard drive.

It's like honorware: You'd hope people could chip in a little bit, at least enough to make themselves feel good.

But maybe I'm expecting too much from people who get their fonts handed to them on a silver platter.

bj

:)

hrant's picture

I just had an idea (and I think other "industries" do this type of thing all the time):

You make a really good font, and then you make an inferior version of it (like with intentionally worse spacing). You charge more for the first one than for the second, explaining/citing the quality difference to [potential] customers. Crazy?

hhp

Joe Pemberton's picture

BJ,

I can't see any good reasons for selling all
your fonts for a flat fee of $2.

However, in general terms, what you're talking
about sounds similar to the yearly 'pass' that
Miniml offers, http://www.miniml.com. Except it
sounds like they will offer at least 12 fonts
during the one year 'membership.'

Because your faces are one-offs of the display
sort, perhaps you should consider bundling
them. If a buyer can't justify $10 or $12 for a
one-off, display face, perhaps they'd be more
eager to buy a pack of fonts for $25 or $30.
(Those prices are just for illustration.) It's the
old 'bang for your buck' equation.

I'd be curious to hear about other successful
methods.

//joe

anonymous's picture

... or give away a single weight for free and charge money if people want the whole family.

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