Asset managers for corporate licensees – “normals" or font people?

I'm researching font management to help define a role for higher management.

But I'm also interested from an ethical standpoint:
– Should this be a dedicated font management role (e.g. Pearson, Penguin Random House, maybe others?);
– Should this role is a subset of an asset / permissions management role? Pros and cons;
– Should this role be undertaken by a member of the type community? Pros and cons.


  • I think Program Management people (often called "Producers" in Creative Industries) usually handle this sort of thing; I'd be surprised if it required a dedicated role even at a publisher like PRH. 

    Members of the type community tend to want to spend their time drawing type, not doing business administration; but domain knowledge is always helpful. Perhaps someone with paralegal contract and copyright training would be better suited.
  • ^ Insightful.
  • James MontalbanoJames Montalbano Posts: 747
    edited October 2016
    I know one of my clients (major magazine house) has a dedicated font person that clears all font license purchases company wide. They have been in place there since the mid 90s.

  • I'd actually be fascinated to know if there are several of these dedicated roles. Pearson and Penguin Random House both have Global Font Managers.
  • James, great to know! Is that person a "type person"? 
  • Dave, he has many careers. He worked in days of photo, selling typesetting for one of the NY type shops, He is also a flight instructor and has an aerial drone business. 
  • It is important, I think, that the person have a strong understanding of print, web and ebook workflows and the font handling involved, so they can understand how the EULAs interact with that. I agree with Dave that they don't have to be a font person for that purpose—somebody with more of a book production background might be well suited.

    That said, if the person is also serving as a broader consultant on font purchasing, and not just licensing per se, a lot of other knowledge could come into play. An understanding of Unicode, languages and character sets, font embedding... all sorts of things.

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 79
    edited October 2016
    I've encountered a lot of digital librarians but only one dedicated font manager other than @Katy Mawhood.   

    I've never had any reason to think that the digital librarians do an inferior job and I would imagine that it's harder to make an entire job out of just managing fonts.  
  • I have often seen Production Managers with type as part of their job.
  • Speaking as one of those Global Font Managers (Pearson), aside from my successor at PRH, I have not heard of anyone else that focuses solely on fonts and digital typography. I came into the role (when I was at DK/Penguin) completely by accident as part of a digital archiving role but the responsibilities for fonts soon took over and it became my sole responsibility.

    Pretty much everything I learned came from teaching myself by talking to type designers and foundries, reading whatever books I could get my hands on, tinkering with FontLab and by directly engaging with the type community on Typophile and more rarely in person. With two young children I find that I do not have the time or energy I had previously to fully engage online but I am no less excited by type.

    For me the job has emerged alongside the large-scale adoption of digital workflows in publishing and is equal parts license compliance, problem-solving, type design (really basic stuff) and guidance on the issues Thomas mentioned above; but particularly digital usage, embedding, Unicode and languages. I have always loved the community that exists around type, both in terms of the type community and the designers and developers that use it but I was lucky to find this position and completely by chance at first.
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