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Thomas Phinney

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Thomas Phinney
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  • Re: MyFonts and families

    I don't know if it's really a race to the bottom unless we're sacrificing quality on the way. If I sell a typeface family for $100 to 10 people, $10 to 100 people or $1 to 1000 people, it doesn't make me want to make me cut corners on the next product any more or less. I get paid just as much in all 3 scenarios.

    ...
    I'm really thinking that bundles and deep discounting aren't a problem at all, they're a symptom of something. Does this happen in other fields? Any economists care to explain this phenomenon? I want to art college so I have no idea what I'm talking about.
    Well, speaking as a type designer who is also an MBA....

    What you say would be true, only if the price elasticity of demand is non-linear and makes *exactly* the right curve. In general, for most products and services, this is not the case. That is, it would be unlikely, a massive coincidence, for any particular good if the price elasticity curve happens to be shaped such that there is no profit-maximizing price and all points are equal.

    Note: don't forget the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). That's why I wrote profit-maximizing rather than revenue-maximizing. If you have 1000 customers instead of 10, don't you think you might have higher support costs?

    We also have at least some experience with price changes for fonts. When font prices dropped in the early-mid 90s, thanks to Microsoft and Corel, profits plummeted. Adobe laid off half their type staff in 1994. So I am at least provisionally suspicious that further price drops are good for font revenue—although I will be the first to say that it may vary depending on what part of the market you're operating in.
  • Re: Transition To Digital Type

    Does anyone know the argument for or against user vs. device licensing? It's not clear that either side is more prominent in the current marketplace.
    Digital fonts were not originally WYSIWYG on screen, so back then it made sense to license by output device. The computer itself didn't do much with the font, and jobs were prepared whether or not the computer had the font.

    Nowadays, with the screen and the document being the place the fonts get used most, fonts being embedded in documents for later printing, and output being secondary, licensing by user makes more sense—and seems to be far more prevalent.

  • Re: Transition To Digital Type

    Adobe initially changed their licensing from per-output-device to "up to five users," when they first went to user-based pricing (I am thinking that it also included maybe two devices? but my memory is fuzzy). This would have presumably been about the time of the arrival of ATM.

    Not sure who first did user-based pricing. Emigre started in 1984, but I don't know what licensing they initially used.
  • Re: Private Use Area for ligatures and alternates

    So, I went down this path 15-20 years ago, at Adobe. It was the subject of pretty intense internal discussions, at the time. I have heard some very smart people argue both sides of the debate.

    Originally, I made the call to push for use of PUA, and got approval to do so. Some years later, I came to regret that decision, and eventually, at least for new fonts, Adobe stopped doing it. But, for the fonts that already shipped that way, Adobe had a backwards-compatibility problem, so they are stuck with continuing that. So, regret.

    Basically, what we found was, very very few of our customers actually used the PUA encoding to access these goodies. The ones who knew so much that they could do such things and actually cared that much would tend to also use savvy apps. And this back in the days before Office supported such things.

    Anyway, I originally was pro-PUA, and now I regret having gone there. I'll take this opportunity to apologize to my Adobe peeps for having saddled them with another “bit of legacy stuck to their shoe,” as David Lemon would put it.  :(
  • Re: MyFonts and families

    ybaggar said:

    Confusing what is good for myfonts and what is good for a designer on myfonts is a mistake.

    Agreed! What is best for MyFonts overall may not be best for the individual designers selling there.
    ybaggar said:

    If myfonts' strategy is wrong for you, the question is, why are you still there? Or can you still make it work for you somehow? Is the solution to also make heavy discounts and bundles and low prices?

    It's not a binary question: MyFonts strategy/marketing can be less than perfect for a given type designer or foundry, but that doesn’t mean that they would be better off not selling at all on MyFonts. Nor does it necessarily mean that they have to dramatically change their discounting and bundling strategy. Certainly that is one way to deal with the situation, but not the only way. Whether abandoning MyFonts might make sense would depend on just how much worse than ideal the MyFonts approach is for that particular designer/foundry, combined with what their alternatives are.