Thanks for posting this, Hrant. Three of the many reasons I’m sincerely stoked about this book:
It’s remarkable that a man who produced five or so lifetimes of work has yet to have a proper monograph or biography. On the other hand, I guess it’s understandable, given how difficult it is to cover the breadth of WAD’s output and its many intricate connections. Bruce did just that.
Most commercial publishers would not produce a book at this standard. Even the non-deluxe edition (printed with stochastic screens, Smyth-sewn, entirely US-made) contradicts the current trend for cheap printing and subpar reproduction. The images in this book are as real as you can get to the original material; and I know this because I’ve stood in the room with the fancy camera rig as Rob Saunders and the folks at Letterform Archive sweated over every capture.
This is the first test of the Archive’s nascent publications program. Their mission is to collect and preserve this stuff, but also to share it in a way that does it justice.
You could start with demonstrating why Avant Garde is a poor choice for body copy which will affect the brand’s communication. Type with strict geometry, extreme proportions, very small apertures, and various uniform/indistinguishable letter shapes does not make a pleasant or effective reading experience.
To get back to @Nick Cooke’s original question, I crunched my MyFonts affiliate numbers. While your experience as a foundry may vary, maybe these figures can shed some light on the overall sales trends.
The average price of sold units (combining both singles and families) has fallen sharply over the last three years. It was stable for at least five years, hovering at $40 throughout 2008–12, but dropped to $38 in 2013 and again to $36 in 2014. In the last quarter of 2016 it was at $34.
Unfortunately, I don’t have more specific data so can’t pinpoint a single cause. As others have mentioned, there are various suspects: decreasing family sales, the Monotype Library Subscription, and other notable MyFonts trends during this period that lead to cheaper fonts, like heavy discounting and frequent flash sales from Monotype as well as third-party foundries.
And of course we have to consider outside influences as well, such as cheap and free alternatives from Typekit (library subscription) and Google, whose collections and influence grew significantly during this period. Webfont services also gained traction in 2013–14. Despite these alternative sources, my individual affiliate sales at MyFonts actually went up during those years — it was the average price of each unit that fell.
In early 2015 units sold began to decline steadily and have not recovered. This was many months before the introduction of the MT Library Subscription, so I wouldn’t blame it specifically.
Gress, Edmund G. Fashions in American Typography, 1780 to 1930 with Brief Illustrated Stories of the Life and Environment of the American People in Seven Periods. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1931. Gress covers “the various periods at which decided changes in the matter of type design or changed tastes in type arrangement took place.” I’ve had this one for a while but just recently dug into it. Pretty interesting to read about each typographic movement from a 1930 perspective. Plenty examples shown of both typefaces and typesetting.