Google Fonts: Your Questions, Answered

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  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    It represent that 32% of the licenses people buy, are done after the client approved the designer's mockup, created by using pirated fonts. That 32% looks positive to me, otherwise you may be not selling those licenses, since the designers would be using other fonts...
  • Is there a full version of the xtensiz survey somewhere? I remember the version they presented at typecon having demographic numbers that make me think only crazy people would take the results seriously.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,154
    When the wolf defines the sheep's habitat, one has to wonder who will benefit most?
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 235
    Pirated fonts have been around for a long time. The existence and use of pirated fonts may really be harmful for font makers, but they didn't destroy the font market as we know it. (Some argued here, that pirated fonts are not completely evil.)

    The real danger for the font market as we know it, is the appearance of some big company, that pays good font designers to produce good fonts, and then offers those good fonts for free. Then font users can get good fonts, for free, and lawfully. Font users who used pirated fonts in the past for mockups and bought those fonts afterwards — might then switch to free fonts, and might never pay for a font again.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 273
    edited December 2013
    @DavidBerlow "Nevertheless, if 32% use pirated fonts for mockups and then buy the fonts, it leaves 67.5% who don't."

    What do the remaining .5% do?
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    Ralf
    If a font is offered on MyFonts (paid) and Google Fonts (free) it will not sell on MyFonts.
    Ben
    might then switch to free fonts, and might never pay for a font again.
    Another example, adding to the previews one about Sante Pro/Stalemate:
    Bree Serif Regular: Free at Google Fonts, Fontsquirrel, etc.
    Bree Serif Family: $365 - Currently #19 Hot new fonts at MyFonts

    Really, I can't see any real danger. I see the opposite.
    When some people see crisis.... others see opportunity

    Why don't you just try, as a little experiment, to release a std version of one of your fonts at GF? Let's see what happens.... I will also try the experiment in the opposite direction, to release a commercial pro version of one of my Libre fonts at MyFonts (as soon as I get time to finish them, as I'm currently quite busy). Will it sell? a little? a lot? Nobody knows.... I think it can be a quite interesting experiment....
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 235
    edited December 2013
    Pablo, how interesting such an experiment might be, its results cannot be relevant as a predictor for what will happen in the long run.

    The change in the market that I fear, may take many years to unfold. For such a gradual market change to happen, many things have to change, like:
    --- Google should offer much more good-quality fonts.
    --- Google’s reputation as a source for fonts, should improve.
    --- Those who buy fonts now, should get convinced that free fonts can be just as good for them as paid-for fonts.
    --- Those who are used to buy fonts from a specific supplier, should be open to look elsewhere, and be willing to switch to another supplier.
    --- Many other things I can’t think of now. (For sure, many opinions have to change. For sure, many habits have to change.)

    By what we do, we can encourage or discourage this gradual market change to happen. Making good quality fonts for Google, encourages this development; not making them for Google, discourages it. Saying that many free fonts are good, encourages it; saying that many free fonts are bad, discourages it. Etc. In the end, the question is: Do we want to encourage or discourage the growth of market share of free fonts?
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 759
    edited December 2013
    Sante Pro (Stalemate at Google Font) is selling more than Lady Rene, or Medusa.
    Pablo, this unit sales comparison doesn’t work because the fonts are at completely different price points. It would be useful if you can find a better example, but I think it may be impossible to eliminate all the variables for this test.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 759
    edited December 2013
    Bree Serif Regular: Free at Google Fonts, Fontsquirrel, etc.
    Bree Serif Family: $365 - Currently #19 Hot new fonts at MyFonts
    Again, this also doesn’t prove much. Bree (sans) was already a very popular family. We don’t know if MyFonts would have sold even more if the Regular wasn’t available for free elsewhere.
  • RalfRalf Posts: 170
    When some people see crisis.... others see opportunity
    I do embrace the new possibilities of the internet, where one can offer work or products for free and still make a living with it. It’s actually a big part of my own work already.
    I am just questioning certain arguments, e.g. the mentioned causalities of how free fonts can only be good for a foundry, as “proved” by Jos Buivenga, Bree or similar fonts. It's not that simple.

    And we have tried free font offers (single styles from larger families). Despite a short marketing effect, it failed for us. The people who downloaded the fonts did not become future customers and the sales of the whole families went down during the time the free styles were offered.
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 235
    The big picture is important here — not a limited snapshot in time, not the small details of a free font here or there.

    The character of the total font market is at stake. It might change from a place where most used fonts, are paid fonts; to a place where most used fonts, are free fonts. It might change from a place where most font users think it is normal and justified to pay for fonts; to a place where most font users think it is normal to get fonts for free.

    Offering free fonts by a foundry as a means to try to get paying customers, only makes sense in an environment where most font users pay for fonts. These are just marketing efforts on a micro level. When the macro level changes into a place where one can get most fonts for free, all those micro-efforts just become irrelevant.

    The marketing efforts of some small players are not a problem. However, there is a problem when a big player inundates the market with good free fonts.
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 735
    edited December 2013
    High quality typography made by experienced type designers will always be expensive to produce. And fonts like this are very difficult to channel through the models that software companies are trying to impose. I think that there will always be clients that can distinguish between quality type design and type design made by amateurs. My question for people who is beginning is: what kind of type designer you aspire to become? An opportunist making bland or recycled designs or a serious designer like Adrian Frutiger?
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 235
    High quality typography made by experienced type designers will always be expensive to produce.
    It surely will. And Google can afford to buy it, and then give it away for free.
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 735
    edited December 2013
    >> It surely will. And Google can afford to buy it, and then give it away for free.

    Usually experienced type designers know that selling exclusivity for a limited period of time is a much better deal. There will be a market for fonts that are not free and ubiquitous because this lower the perceived quality and appeal of any design.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    Pablo, this unit sales comparison doesn’t work because the fonts are at completely different price points. It would be useful if you can find a better example, but I think it may be impossible to eliminate all the variables for this test.
    Stephen, I was not trying to compare those fonts in particular (they just happened to be in adjacent places in the Myfonts ranking).

    My point was to show that Pro versions of Libre fonts can sells commercial licenses in MyFonts at the same time, since other members stated that it was impossible: "people will not pay for the commercial version if the Libre version is available". However, Stalemate/SantePro sells pretty well (without comparing it to any particular font), and regardless of the Libre Std version being freely available.
  • And we have tried free font offers (single styles from larger families). Despite a short marketing effect, it failed for us. The people who downloaded the fonts did not become future customers and the sales of the whole families went down during the time the free styles were offered.
    I don't think that always true, or applicable to all, since many still continues to offer the free version of some fonts in their latest releases. Latest exlibris release, Tenso, continues to offer the free version, so it's seems to be working for them.
    But we are coming to agree that what works for some people, does not necessarily works for all others, or what works for a particular font does not works for all others fonts. I also agree with that.. but the majority seems to think to think that Libre fonts are bad for "all" people, and I just don't think so. I still think they are good for most people, including those who sells licenses.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    There will be a market for fonts that are not free and ubiquitous because this lower the perceived quality and appeal of any design.
    Here we agree. Libre fonts will not kill the commercial market, as people will keep paying for that higher degree of exclusivity provided by commercial fonts. I've had already said that, in many of the previous posts.
  • Libre fonts will not kill the commercial market, as people will keep paying for that higher degree of exclusivity provided by commercial fonts.
    If the commercial market shrinks to those who want a "higher degree of exclusivity", we're screwed. For every designer or client who wants to appear unique and exclusive, there are hundreds who want to use whatever everyone else is using. That's why there are bestseller lists, and why people shop them.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    Max, free fonts have been around for ever. Dafont gets much more traffic than Myfonts, however demand for commercial fonts was not killed, they are more popular than ever before, as more and more people get interested in fonts in general.

    And with the advent of webfonts, which GF helped popularize, you are selling double by just automatically converting your fonts files (with a few notable exceptions, like Webtype, HF&J, and a few more that truly care about webfonts)... like converting from BMP to PNG and charging 2X... I know I know... it's a different usage, needs different licensing terms, etc, etc, etc... but all the automatically generated conversions by MyFonts and other resellers does not involve any extra work from you, and you get more money... and part of that sales are thanks to the popularity of the webfonts formats, and GF played a mayor role in order for that format to become popular and adopted at large scale by the masses. So, again, I think GF is actually helping you to make more money.
  • RalfRalf Posts: 170
    And with the advent of webfonts, … you are selling double
    And you drastically increase piracy because no one has to wait years until one legal copy of a font family is being made available as illegal download by an intern of a design studio, who copied the fonts from the company’s server. Today, it only seconds to download the WOFF fonts from the preview site, convert it to TTF and there’s your free (illegal) font.

    I really don’t want to be Johnny Raincloud here, but I am just not coming to that conclusion …
    GF is actually helping you to make more money
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 235
    When some people see crisis.... others see opportunity
    It doesn’t seem that Google wants to make money from their “font business” in any direct way. (I am sure they consider the font market as a “business opportunity”. I guess they expect to make money from it in an indirect way, whatever that may be.)

    Because fonts are not Google’s moneymaker, and because Google has deep pockets, they can change the font market’s playing field. That playing field may have been rather level for some time — but not anymore, since Google started to give away fonts. The more good-quality fonts they give away, the less level the playing field will become... and the harder it will get for other players in the font market to sell (not give away) their stuff.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    And [webfonts] drastically increase piracy ...
    Which in turn will lead to more sales... as previously discussed (even that we don't all agree on that).
    However, even if piracy is increased... 99% of font vendors are choosing to take on the risk and deliver webfonts.... Why? Because is good business and they don't want to be out of it. Piracy may be a risk, but it's a minor one compared to the benefits.

    You may remember a few years ago a controversial blog post by Mark Pilgrim: The entire industry where against webfonts... "webfonts piracy will kill the business", blah blah blah .... and only 2 years later, everybody is making money thanks to webfonts, including those who once were their biggest detractors.

    You haven't opted out of the webfonts option for Wayfinding Sans.
    And no one forces you to sell webfonts. It's a signage font after all...
    So, it's seems that the money you make for selling webfonts version can compensate for the piracy risk, or that for some other reason you have decided to take on the risk. Otherwise you will not be offering the webfonts versions.
    If you truly believes that webfont piracy is a big risk and that you are loosing money because of it, the solution is simple: Opt out! But you won't do that, I guess....
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,652
    Pablo, font foundries embraced webfonts as soon as there was a format distinction that made it possible to ringfence the huge install base of desktop fonts not licensed for use on the web. That's why Erik and Tal and Jonathan came up with WOFF, why foundries expressed their support for that format even before it was formally published, and why browser makers collaborated on that specification and ensured widespread support for the format. A lot of people did lot of hard work to make that happen, and to say that the entire font industry was against webfonts was never accurate.
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    John, as always, thanks for your corrections. I take that paragraph back (edit is now disabled, so I can't strike it out, sorry).
    But the others paragraphs about the "big piracy risk" still remains, in particular the last one:
    "If you truly believes that webfont piracy is a big risk and that you are loosing money because of it, the solution is simple: Opt out! But you won't do that, I guess.... "
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,154
    Pablo, you are implying that piracy helps increase sales?
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 527
    edited December 2013
    Chris, not implying it. I'm saying it directly, many times along the whole thread, and also explaining the reasons why it is that I think so, for example here:
    http://typedrawers.com/discussion/comment/6781/#Comment_6781
    And while many does not agree, others seems to think among the same lines
    http://typedrawers.com/discussion/comment/6153/#Comment_6153
    So it seems that I'm not the only crazy one :)
  • I am surprised that Max wrote, "I agree that pirated fonts & software can help build demand for properly licensed fonts & software"
  • RalfRalf Posts: 170
    edited December 2013
    And [webfonts] drastically increase piracy …
    Which in turn will lead to more sales...
    Sorry, but your optimism gets a litte bit crazy now. If your logic is true, lets all offer all our fonts for free on our websites! It will increase sales! Great! Why haven't we thought about that before‽ Why are Microsoft and Adobe not offering all their stuff for free? When the people use it commercially, they will buy it, won't they? At least 32% will do …
    You haven't opted out of the webfonts
    I wouln’t know I can for a single family. We have signed a contract for all fonts. I don't offer it as webfont from our foundry site though.
    If you truly believes that webfont piracy is a big risk and that you are loosing money because of it, the solution is simple: Opt out!
    That’s not the point. For me, the choice to offer webfonts is not based on calculations of possible revenue vs. losses through piracy. It's based on the fact, that fonts are made for font users. Since webfonts are now technically possible, the companies want their corporate design to work on the web as in print. I simply need to deliver that. Or even my desktop font sales might drop, because the customers will rather pick fonts that allows a broader use.
  • Ramiro EspinozaRamiro Espinoza Posts: 735
    edited December 2013
    Remember what happened to these type designers who were happy to receive upfront payments from Letraset and ITC (and didn't read very well the agreements) when their fonts ended up bundled with operative systems. They got zero money from the deals, their fonts became ubiquitous and basically free and now many of these type designers get no revenue from years of work and many are facing hardship. Advice: don't work for software companies which don't care a second for designers or good typography. Work for yourself or honest companies ran by designers and made for designers.
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