Contemporary specimen book inspired by the ‘Indie Fonts’ book series

Indie Fonts 3 was the first type specimen book I ever bought, from the gift shop at the National Gallery of Victoria (state art gallery). I adored it then, and treasure it now, even though I have many more specimen books. 

I am toying with an idea to try to produce something similar. I know the landscape has changed, so my thinking is to use Kickstarter or a similar crowd funding platform and aim to get enough backers for a print run. Retail sales would not be the primary goal, but obviously I’d be open to it. 

For those of you who participated in the Indie Fonts series, did you find it a rewarding experience? Did they pay you, or did you consider it part of your marketing strategy and as such advertising? 


Comments

  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 324
    kupfers said:
    There are the Yearbook[s] of Type by Slanted Publishers which are on a pay-and-your-fonts-get-in basis https://www.slanted.de/product/yearbook-of-type-2021-22/
    Not sure how much (more) demand there is for something like this with blogs, sites and newsletters now.
    Ooh! Thanks, I had no idea these existed. 
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 324
    I just ordered the current one, as also picked up the two Robin Kinross books to browse :-)
  • Paul van der LaanPaul van der Laan Posts: 212
    edited June 26
    FWIW – the Indie Fonts specimen was also on a pay-to-get-featured basis. Participating foundries had to buy a minimum amount of copies from the publisher. At least for the first volume, don’t know about the other two.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 324
    interesting, I had no idea. Thanks 
  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 113
    I participated as well and ended up with a boatload of copies to basically give away. Nevertheless, it paid off for me, as well. Today, demand for print products is small but print-on-demand offers a cost-efficient alternative and high-cap thumb drives are downright cheap.

    I'd take Rick at his word—do the project for love rather than money.
  • notdefnotdef Posts: 168
    edited June 26
    Re. the pay-to-get-featured practice: In the newspaper world, masking advertising as editorials is considered unethical. I’ve stopped reading most designer blogs and books/magazines, as I can’t trust their opinions and claims to be honest. I also worry about the long-term repercussion of not having a critical design press: power abuse is allowed to go unexamined, actual valid claims and critiques are not separated from PR leading to lack of respect from clients, those without means to pay are excluded, etc. (edited the text slightly)
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 324
    Given the landscape today, if I pursued this I’d treat is more as an art book, documenting things, so, pay contributors, have some sort of focus to the book etc. it’s selfish, as I just love seeing traditional-style printed type specimens :-) 
  • notdefnotdef Posts: 168
    At least one reader above never knew that this was a promo piece. I know all too well that the font business is a constant hustle for attention, and I understand why one might tag on to stuff like this, deep discounts, etc.  In journalism, these standards exist because what they publish is important. IMO, the implicit message of hollow design promo/press is that what we do doesn’t really matter much. 

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,744
    edited June 28
    When has any design journalist ever said “not their best work”?
    Design writing is all puffery—publishers are not going to diss potential advertisers and readers want to hear what’s hot. And designers do so much self-promotion, given their easy access to creative tools. 

    While I too would like to see more independent design journalism, the Indie Fonts are not magazines but books that have little editorial text, barring the blurb at the front extolling the virtues of indie type design in general.

    The Indie Fonts format is not too different from a curated content book such as Jan Middendorp’s Type Navigator—i.e. it is mostly good old-fashioned type specimens, presented in a format that is consistent throughout the book, which does enable a large measure of objective, hype-free appraisal. I might add that the “editorial” texts in Type Navigator were provided by the foundries.

    The Slanted Yearbooks followed the Indie Fonts format—with foundries paying for a number of pages, some to a page layout design common with other participants, and some which are foundry-created pages that are promotional.

    I’ve participated in Type Navigator (providing the publisher with fonts) and both Indie Fonts and Slanted Yearbooks. They is what they is.

    I still have a box of Indie Fonts 3—each volume with a CD!
    I was relying on Mark to do the heavy-lifting distribution.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 324
    notdef said:
    At least one reader above never knew that this was a promo piece. I know all too well that the font business is a constant hustle for attention, and I understand why one might tag on to stuff like this, deep discounts, etc.  In journalism, these standards exist because what they publish is important. IMO, the implicit message of hollow design promo/press is that what we do doesn’t really matter much. 

    I did not know they were promo, in one sense, as I was unaware of how most business like this works at the time, but on the other hand I knew they were promo as they were actively promoting different foundries. I used them as a way to find and license from different ones. So I was aware they were marketing, I was just unaware of the mechanics for how they were produced. 
    I think the value of printed specimens, especially these days, if having something tangible for the historical record. yes, few people will really appreciate them, but to me that does not matter if they are art history artefacts. I know I love looking through my 1958 second edition of The Encyclopaedia of Typefaces, for example. Indie Fonts fits this space for me too, a time capsule of that era. 
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,168
    Here's a complete take-all-the-ignorance-outta-you hardcover print-on-demand service.
    I wonder if we’ll ever have print-on-demand books compiled as signatures and stitched rather than glue bindings?

  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,164
    I'm awaiting the option for luxe editions on vellum!
  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 113
    @John Hudson
    I wonder if we’ll ever have print-on-demand books compiled as signatures and stitched rather than glue bindings?
    If they got the equipment, it can be done. Back in the day, when I was working in a print shop which had the equipment, many wonders could be performed with Quite Imposing software and PDFs.

    I'm awaiting the option for luxe editions on vellum!
    If it can be sheeted, it can be printed.


  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 324
    @kupfers  my copy of the 2021/2022 Slanted specimen book just arrived. It looks nice, but the bright colours and form factor make it hard for me to evaluate the type ha, I think I'm just use to books from the 1950s that are larger sheet size and mostly black ink. It has helped me think about what I would want in my book, for example in this one given it is so big I've taken to using post-it notes to mark pages I want to return to, having some ribbons like in FontBook would have been nice (but I assume expensive too!). 

  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 324
    Re POD, Blurb is high quality, now offering some Mohawk papers: https://www.blurb.com/photo-books

    I've used Blurb and MagCloud a couple of times for images and found them good, I will pursue POD for my book (if I make it!) as it will be more of a passion project than lucrative retail hit I imagine. 

    My current idea is to approach a couple of foundries I have a good relationship with and work with them on books of just their catalogue. That way I can test the waters, they get a decent specimen book and we all can learn in the process. But I'm not setting any timeframe for this, it will just be something I do as I have headspace and capacity. 
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