Your opinion on super heavy discounts on MyFonts.

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  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,152
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    Ben, he was criticizing your post, not saying nasty things about you.
  • Deleted Account
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    My apologies for straying, very briefly, from thoughtful discourse at an adult level. I don't know you personally, so I'm not going to comment further.

    What I mean, please, in the obvious of your writing,

    "If, because of the discounts, or, in spite of the discounts, at MyFonts, more fonts are being sold than before, and, more importantly, the total cumulative value in dollars of all the fonts sold, increases — then this is good news for both MyFonts and for the foundries who sell fonts through MyFonts."

    We are not kindergarden font industry readers here.

    "If, the cumulative value in dollars of the fonts sold, increases — this is good news for MyFonts and foundries who sell fonts through MyFonts."

    ...would be bad enough to wade through, being so obvious it'd be like saying, seriously, in a tourist industry forum that sunshine is better for business than hail.

    What I mean, please, in the idle speculation of your writing,

    "Let's consider the following behavior of a foundry who sells through MyFonts. The foundry offers a deep introductory discount. After the end of the discount period, the foundry waits for 45 days, and then offers a deep discount again. After the end of this second discount period, the foundry waits again for 45 days, and then offers a deep discount again. Etc. This behavior is possible now, and it seems to happen to some extent. Do we consider this as "gaming the system"? If so, and if we would want to prevent this behavior, two things could be done. Increase the 45 days "waiting period", or introduce a new rule which, in some way, forbids "too many discounts in a row" (or which forbids more than a specific number of promotions per year)."

    Really? Briefly, you mean:

    "Consider a foundry who sells through MyFonts using a deep discount repeating for two weeks every two months. If we consider this as "gaming the system", we want to prevent it, and forbid too many discounts per year."

    I think if you want people to read it, then please don't take 3 times the space to write it. Besides that: Who is We and what makes you think that any We can Rule the way Anyone Prices Everyone's Products?
  • Adam Twardoch
    Adam Twardoch Posts: 507
    edited March 2013
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    [Apologies to all for the risk of going more off-topic.]

    David,

    Dr. Peter Karow once said to me, in the middle of a conversation I was having with him, "Yes, I got that. You could have said it in fewer words, though". Just this week, a MyFonts teammate has referred to my "book-long posts" on this very thread, a remark which was said with a warm and friendly hint of irony, and was so received. I think I may suffer from a similar kind of "disease" as Ben: from wordiness and lack of brevity.

    I do envy your admirable and unique ability of writing poignantly and succinctly. Alas, not everyone is as gifted in this department. I'm very grateful to the readers of this forum for bearing with me and tolerating my usually somewhat bloated writing style. I would like to kindly and humbly request to extend the same courtesy to other fellow "ramblers" — even if it's just to stop me from feeling like I'm the only "odd one" in a room full of those blessed with the gift of masterful brevity.

    May I also point out one possible inconsequence in your recent post: you seem to criticize Ben for speaking on behalf of a larger group ("Who is We and what makes you think that any We..."), yet just a few lines earlier, you use an identical construct yourself, by writing "We are not kindergarden font industry readers here".

    You know that I dearly value your insights, David, regardless of which personal pronoun you choose to use. :)

    But I also appreciate Ben's input, and anyone else's — as long as "we" ;) stay away from personal attacks, obvious trolling etc. I personally see no breach of code of civil communication here, and I'll happily stay involved in this forum if this continues to be the case.

    Many thanks to everyone who chose to share their thoughts so far!
    Adam
    (self-appointed First Secretary of the Coalition of Sentence Bloaters, Esq.)
  • Eris Alar
    Eris Alar Posts: 427
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    Does anyone know if 'gaming' the FontShop list happens too? http://www.fontshop.com/fonts/bestsellers.php Although I am a little confused about what time-frame this list covers as I see Trend there which I licensed from MyFonts on it's massive intro special.
  • Ben Blom
    Ben Blom Posts: 250
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    What I tried to do, is discuss the subject at hand, in a serious, precise, and clear way. I think the subject is too important for very short or silly remarks. I don't want to annoy anyone here, but obviously I failed in this respect. I am sorry if I upset some of you by using too many words. Using too many words, may be one of my weaknesses. It's a bit sad I am using words now, not about the subject of this discussion, but about the way it's being discussed. Please allow me to respond to David's last comment.

    Ray said that he, after reading earlier comments, still doesn't get how the system could be good in any way. I responded to this very strong remark, by interpreting "Only in music has revenue gone down". By doing this, I did indeed repeat some things which have been said before. Now David says that my remarks about this are obvious and suitable for kindergarten. I am happy it's obvious for him, but it didn't seem to be like this for all here.

    David's abridgement of my "idle speculation" misses important parts of the meaning of the original. However, I have to admit, the point of the "idle speculation" could have been made with less words. The word "we" has been used as a figure of speech, obviously not meant to include or exclude any specific person.

    David, what's your opinion about the subject at hand? I looked for it in this discussion, but couldn't find it.

    Two final remarks. The subject is more important than the way we discuss it. Let's be nice to each other.
  • Deleted Account
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    "I looked for it in this discussion, but couldn't find it."

    Speek quickly, and carry a price list for 30 years.
  • Stephen Coles
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    Does anyone know if 'gaming' the FontShop list happens too?
    If I recall correctly this list is generated based on a combination of single font and package sales which (when I was there a few years ago) resulted in a pretty familiar group of perennial favorites. Of course, FontShop does have a different clientele than MyFonts (though that could be changing). Not sure if their algorithm has changed too, but it does seem that lower priced families like Trend and Fredericka now make the list, even with the “All time” toggle on. Maybe David Sudweeks can tell us more.
  • David Sudweeks
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    The algorithm returns a list of products in descending order by number of transactions. The data it bases this on is sampled, which from what I can tell tends to emphasize recent over older transactions. I was kind of surprised to find out just now that it's really that simple.
  • Eris Alar
    Eris Alar Posts: 427
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    So it is possible?
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
    edited March 2013
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    So it is possible?
    You need to make a package where design, price, quality, character set, type specimen et cetera all work together to create a good deal for the user. Then your font might eventually end up being a bestseller. Maybe now, maybe in 5 or 10 years. And when it is in the bestseller list, this might sell some more units than before.
    But you can't fabricate a bestseller just by adjusting the price. This cannot work. And if it would work (for some time), everyone would do it, so it would stop working again. ;-)

    The success comes through the offers itself, not through “gaming the lists”.
  • David Sudweeks
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    One, Ralf's point (Thanks Ralf), and two, FontShop doesn't feature its bestsellers on its default landing page. So even though it's possible to jump your product to the head of the line in the bestsellers category, the reward isn't there for doing it.
  • Max Phillips
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    But you can't fabricate a bestseller just by adjusting the price.
    Ralf, I think this misses the point. No one thinks 90% discounts automatically produce bestsellers. But the current trend means that new work by little-known designers is basically locked out of two extremely important showcases, the Hot New Fonts list and the MyFonts newsletter, unless it's sold at fire sale prices. That doesn't seem like a good thing.

    David S, do you really think that "jumping to the head of the line" in FontShop's bestsellers list confers no commercial advantage, just because the list isn't on the default landing page? The New York Times Book Review bestsellers aren't printed on the front cover, but somehow people manage to find the list.
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
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    But the current trend means that new work by little-known designers is basically locked out of two extremely important showcases, the Hot New Fonts list and the MyFonts newsletter, unless it's sold at fire sale prices.
    Judging from all the discussion before, I don't think that is the case.
    I can't remember that the newsletter(s) would only focus on deep discounts. They focus on good offers, as judged by the editors and the initial sales. And as we have discussed concerning the Hot New Fonts: a deep discounted font needs to sell a lot more copies than a regularly priced font. So the “hotness” actually seems to be respected.

    I also found the argument quite convincing, that MyFonts can't start manipulating the list itself or the algorithms to favor a certain type of fonts (like higher-price “quality fonts" in general or even the ones of certain foundries). Imagine the discussions we would have here, if we would see something like this, which would maybe even put fonts from people here lower on the lists.
  • Max Phillips
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    Judging from all the discussion before, I don't think that is the case.
    We don't have to judge from the discussion here, Ralf. Look at the list. Look at the newsletter. They are both dominated by deeply discounted typefaces. We can argue about whether this is good, bad, or indifferent for type designers, but there's no argument about whether or not it's happening. It's happening.

    Addressing this trend would not require MyFonts to start manipulating the list to favor certain kinds of fonts. It would only require them to adjust their current rules for discounting licenses. Personally, I wish they would. The tone of the last newsletter (including the prominent disclaimer "MyFonts […] doesn’t decide about promotions") suggests that even they are a bit ambivalent about this way of doing business.
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,386
    edited March 2013
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    I don't know if this deep discount list gaming is good or bad for the font industry in general. I couldn't venture a guess. I don't think anyone has a real way of knowing as there are so many factors involved. Nobody knows.

    I don't like being forced to play this game. I'm essentially locked out of future newsletters unless I raise my base price and do a deep discount for part of the Hot New Fonts duration. A good display font with no deep discount barely stands a chance of even grazing the bottom of the list. I'm not saying it has no chance whatsoever. But it's gone from a time where you could sell a few copies at regular price, appear at the bottom of the list and, if the font was actually "hot", climb your way up. But if the list is primarily comprised of deep discount/high base price fonts, the upper list almost unreachable through reasonable means.

    Maybe some of you still think deep discounting is good for customers. A short deep discount run that can end up putting higher priced, arbitrary fonts higher on the list does a disservice to customers. I really think so. When a customer sees an expensive font, high on then list, they're being misled as to it's value. I'm not saying that to be in the newsletter, you need to use this trick. But in order for a font to gain momentum, it at least needs to show up on the list and stand a fighting chance.

    At the very least, they should make the discounts run the full duration of the Hot New Fonts run. Even better, put a reasonable cap on introductory discounts to bring the base prices down a bit. That way, customers can still get discounted fonts. There's less incentive to bump up the base price. Would that be so bad? Of course, the font creators who game the charts regularly won't like it as they'll have to price their fonts appropriately and have some merit.

    I'm not talking about how this would affect the font industry in general or how it would affect MyFonts. That's not in my wheelhouse and I really don't care. I just want to launch decent fonts at a reasonable regular price and have a chance of getting to the bottom of the chart without being forced to resort to, what I feel are cheap tactics that mislead customers. It's a bad system for everyone those who are willing to stoop to low, dishonest tactics and I think it needs to change.
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
    edited March 2013
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    A) What I would like to see addressed are the still appearing look-alikes, which are very likely derived from modified font files of respected foundries. I am sure MyFonts has the money to have someone work full-time to investigate such cases, before they are even released. This is an ongoing issue which hurts the reputation of MyFonts. (and the relation between MyFonts and the foundries, whose fonts get ripped off)

    B) But I don't care if 30 deep discounted fonts — which not fall under A) — are higher on the Hot New Font list than my own fonts which have no or a moderate introductory discount. People have bought these discounted fonts, because they saw them as good offers. So why are good offers a “cheap trick” or “misleading“? Introductory offers are a valid marketing strategy for ages in every field of business.
    Maybe those buyers who only go for the deep discounts, are not my target group anyway. I don't feel pressured to also start 90% discount just to climb the Hot New Fonts to the top. There are hundreds of new fonts every month and just a few spots on the top of those list.
    My business hasn’t relied on those few spot in the Hot New Font list — not before there were deep discounts and not now. So I don't see why MyFonts should take measures to influence who is on these spots.
  • Ben Blom
    Ben Blom Posts: 250
    edited March 2013
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    "You need to make a package where design, price, quality, character set, type specimen et cetera all work together to create a good deal for the user." Agreed. For a successful font introduction, all such factors, including the offered introductory discount, are important. If a foundry offers a deep introductory discount, it increases, by that, its chance to appear in the Hot New Fonts list. (A deep introductory discount in itself, does not guarantee success, because there have been unsuccessful deep discount introductions.) When looking at the Hot New Fonts list, I have to conclude, that the "deepness" of the introductory discount is a very important factor to appear in this list. The deeper the discount, the bigger the chance to appear (high) in the Hot New Fonts list. So I tend to agree with this: "The current trend means that new work by little-known designers is basically locked out of two extremely important showcases, the Hot New Fonts list and the MyFonts newsletter, unless it's sold at fire sale prices."

    For the same "chart climbing effect", you now need to offer a deeper introductory discount than two years ago. The change might be something like this: for the impact of a 10% discount two years ago, you now need a 40% discount; for 20% two years ago, you now need 60%; and for 30% two years ago, you now need 80%. (I invented these numbers to illustrate the trend; the real numbers may be different.) So the difference between then and now, is one of degree and not of kind.

    The changed market conditions (i.e. the fiercer price competition) for introductory discounts, is bad news for small start-up foundries who are not willing to deep discount, and perhaps for anyone who doesn't want to deep discount. If you don't want to use a marketing tool which is available for all, you reduce, by that, your chance of getting noticed in the Hot New Fonts list. The playing field today, is just as level as is has been two years ago — however, since the way others "play", has changed, you might also want to change the way you "play" (or not).

    There are four ways to respond to this situation: (1) Ignore the change in market conditions, and continue to do as you did before. (2) Moderately increase your introductory discounts. (3) If you can't beat them, join them. (4) Change the rules. From these four options, I choose to go somewhere between the second and third option: I offered introductory discounts in the range 65% - 75%.

    Only MyFonts can change the rules. But is it smart for MyFonts to do so? If they would limit discounts to, say, 50%, what would happen? Then customers who love deep discounting will go to other font market places where deep discounting is still allowed. Which share of MyFonts' customer base, will walk away? How will this affect MyFonts' total sales in dollars? The customers who walk away, will say that you have to go elsewhere for the best discount deals. And when they go there, they might also start to buy non-discounted fonts there.
  • Ben Blom
    Ben Blom Posts: 250
    edited March 2013
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    The situation might not be as hopeless for new work by a little-known designer who does not want to offer a deep-discounted introductory price, as it seems.
    (1) Although the chance for such a designer to get into the Hot New Fonts list without a deep discount, is much smaller now than two years ago, it is still possible. If such a designer happens to offer a font that many customers really like a lot, and/or if there are other factors which improve sellability of that font, then that font might get into the Hot New Fonts list anyway.
    (2) If we define a deep discount as a discount of more than 50%, then the little-known designer could offer a discount of 50% or 40%, which could help the font to get into the Hot New Fonts list.
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,386
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    I get it. It's really just the way the chart is geared; the nature of the beast. And since that's what the chart encourages, it really makes sense to just go for it. It's not cheating if the rules of the game have changed.
  • Christian Thalmann
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    Just saying: Octant used to sell about once a day when it was on sale. Now, in its second month, the rate plummeted to something like once every 2 weeks. Maybe I've already saturated the market for this unusual kind of font...? Or then it really was the 51% rebate that drew in all those buyers.
  • Jan Schmoeger
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    Christian, Octant is beautiful and unique, I believe it will sell for a very long time. It will not make you rich, though.
  • Chris Lozos
    Chris Lozos Posts: 1,458
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    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The problem is that the "beholder" window closes quickly on MyFonts. Sustained sales [after the initial window] used to be much better than they are now. I noticed relatively sudden drop over a year ago. Discounts went to the "discounted" link so may have opened a few windows but I have not found discounts to help overall revenue.
  • Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer
    edited April 2013
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    Don't focus too much on MyFonts. This is where people buy fonts, not necessarily where they find them.

    The font of a friend of mine had average sales, but they skyrocketed once it was used for a Jamie Oliver cookbook. People most likely used the WhatTheFont feature to find out which font it was. I guess it helped that the typography of the book wasn't too bad.

    And to get back on topic (sorry), I wouldn't pay too much attention to discounts. They can help sometimes, sure, but when people come to font websites, they usually either go looking for freebies or already know what they need, so a discount won't help that much, in the long run. Other means of exposure are more effective.
  • Stephen Coles
    Stephen Coles Posts: 999
    edited April 2013
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    The font of a friend of mine had average sales, but they skyrocketed once it was used for a Jamie Oliver cookbook.
    I wouldn’t underestimate the selling power of MyFonts as a web savvy retailer, but you’re right that there are many other potential catalysts, including mentions in print magazines, blogs, and, as you say, high profile uses. My hope is that coverage on Fonts In Use can lead to interest in lesser known type.
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,152
    edited April 2013
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    Nonetheless, the Fonts in Use chart (if such were to be configured based on mentions, or perhaps traffic) would I suspect look familiar. A cursory analysis reveals Helvetica/AG and Gotham at the top.

    I should post a few more Shinntypes!

    But it’s hard for a foundry that sells through distributors to locate usage—few resellers reveal any information about purchasers.

    So that again favors typefaces that are already ubiquitous, or in use by major mass-market advertisers.

    Stephen—how about a TypeBoard thread on Fonts in Use?
  • Stephen Coles
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    I should post a few more Shinntypes!
    Yes, you should. What we publish is based not on frequency of use, but on what interests the staff and what users submit. It’s open to all!
    it’s hard for a foundry that sells through distributors to locate usage
    Indeed. We hope that over the long haul our collection will benefit foundries that way as well.
  • Tiffany Wardle
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    Sharing a link to a specimen site is somehow more gratifying, instant viewing pleasure so to speak. But I am with Indra. I collect, view, and appreciate, well-designed specimen PDFs. Specimen sites are useful in that we can see how well the font performs online, but PDFs are still important for those of us who design in print.
  • Jeremy Dooley
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    I don't have a problem if the ranking is solely based on total sales. A "new normal" will eventually stabilize.

    I suspect that the algorithm weights newer foundries higher than preexisting ones by some mechanism...I will not speculate publicly what that is. I have no solid quantifiable evidence, but I think it is unlikely that some of the newer foundries have achieved such spectacular success without a "stable" of other releases.

    This would make sense. The "churn" makes money for myfonts as we have moved to a fashion based business, and crowding out new arrivals would hurt myfonts in the long run.

    Note I am not making a value judgement on this; business is business, adjust your business planning accordingly.
  • Deleted Account
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    "...we have moved to a fashion based business..."

    Not so sure what "we", or "fashion-based" means in this context but I'd like to. And,

    Nick: "But it’s hard for a foundry that sells through distributors to locate usage—few resellers reveal any information about purchasers."

    But they are licensees, not "purchasers", so you have the right to know them all, no?

    "So that again favors typefaces that are already ubiquitous, or in use by major mass-market advertisers."

    Sorry, I'm not understanding; what about a foundry that sells through distributors not being able to trace use, brings usage favor on typefaces that are already ubiquitous? If I have that right... thanks.

  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,152
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    David, true, they are licensees, but they purchase the licences.

    If all one knows about a purchaser is their email address (which might be a gmail account) and the company they work for, that may not reveal which of their clients the fonts are being used for, or in which media.

    What I mean is, if I can’t skew things in my favor because I can't track and show uses of my types on low traffic websites or liquor bottles not sold in my neighbourhood, then the types that are going to show up on Fonts in Use will be those which are more prevalent in mass media, as noticed by disinterested commentators. Popularity benefiting the already popular—a power law.