Explanation of the Type Industry.


Recently, I have seen a lot news about the type industry. I am not a professional, so I admit a don't know as much as I would like. Could someone please explain the type industry in its (almost) whole? This might be an unrealistic ask, but I feel as though the industry is a very confusing place and I just want a foray. You don't have to be super-detailed, just enough for me to know the big happenings. Thanks to anyone who responds.


  • I would say it is mainly comprised of producers (type designers and foundries, who design and produce the fonts) and distributors (e.g., Monotype, Adobe, ILT, Fontspring, etc.). There is some overlap. Some distributors also produce fonts (Monotype, Adobe) some do not (Fontspring, Creative Market, ILT, etc.). Some foundries also distribute directly to customers or only do distribution themselves, not through third party distributors. In many cases, producers work directly with customers on bespoke fonts. I would even include the free/open source font community (both producers and distributors, such as Google Fonts and DaFont) as a part of all this.

    I would also include the software developers who create font editors and other font production tools and standards to be part of the "type industry."
  • There are clients who need fonts. They get these via a few different ways:
    1- they get something custom made 
    2- they license something existing (paid or free)
    3- they use fonts bundled with their software or OS

    For part 1, they go straight to foundries or individual type designers.

    For part 2, they can get the fonts either directly from the foundries or via distributors. This can happen online or offline, via one time payment or annual fees or subscription to full libraries.

    Foundries: these are either individual designers with their own label, or a small sized company, or large (like Monotype), or a small unit that is part of a much bigger company (Google, Microsoft, Adobe). 

  • @Typofactory Could you please provide links to recent "lot news about the type industry".  I've only seen a little and want to catch up
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,654
    edited October 2023
    @James Puckett said:
    • The Type Founders: some people with money buying up type foundries, probably building a company to sell later.
    Yeah, that's not what they are doing. TTF is not a distributor, more like a meta-foundry. Promoting and developing the foundries they've acquired is their purpose, and in most cases, the designers from those foundries continue to be actively involved, but focused on type design rather than other aspects of running a foundry. They are building something for the long term.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,973
    I think the concern some people have with TTF is that there appears to be no structural protection against the owners opting to sell the company, e.g. to Monotype. Anyone familiar with the way in which ownership in the publishing or automotive industries became increasingly concentrated knows that this is a familiar pattern: companies start merging or buying up smaller players, and then themselves get acquired by a larger player. The only way to avoid this as a potential outcome is to make it structurally or legally prohibitive, which the people investing in a company are loath to do, because ultimately they may want to cash out and, if the price is right, they almost certainly will. ‘Building something for the long term’ does not in itself preclude selling that something.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,654
    edited October 2023
    Well, that's certainly not their aim, which @James Puckett was suggesting.
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