Optimal Font Store?

Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 147
edited April 10 in Type Business
Here at TD, we often post and read about the issues that type designers encounter at font stores. This implies that could exist a font store that is better both for customers and type designers and still make money for owners.

The hope is that by presenting our ideas, we can define a reasonable (optimal and sustainable) model.

Not only our wishes but also important functioning questions. For example, if the hyperproduction/quality are issues, there should be criteria or jury or a limited number of additions per year, etc. In the case of a jury, those people spending time carefully reviewing entries should be paid, maybe anonymous or temporary members. Also, which ideas are implemented (upvoting or decision-making board) etc.

The market is oversaturated, but still, there might be a space for a font store that delivers the best products on the market, educate users on what to look for and why it is important, and communicate that "buying on this store you are directly supporting type designers".

Because the model should be "optimal and sustainable" (and if turns out that such a model could be defined) maybe TypeDrawers would be interested in opening such a store. The commission rate should cover the salaries of the employed people, marketing costs as well as a stable support for the TD forum.
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  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 147
    The features that would be important for me:

    - The system adjusted to font versioning. I would like to publish 0.x versions, and have an easy option to update customers. The price would rise during the time, while early customers get it as a free update (or updates would be free until some defined point).

    That would incorporate crowdfunding logic into type design. Also, I would get better feedback from users while the font is in progress, like where the problems are, which set to cover etc. 

    - My guess is that a 30% commission rate would be optimal.

    But to support the opening of the hypothetical TD font store, I would be ok with the commission rate starting from 80% in the first period, and then gradually going down to 30%.

    - I would like to see a standardized specimen for all fonts. It could be modular like I can turn off OT features preview for early versions etc.) But the specimen devised in a way that even type designers can use it as a reliable quality check.  
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,279
    The hesitations I'd see:
    • Existing Typedrawers visitors (I'd guess) are more makers of type than purchasers of type. So there's not a large built-in paying audience.
    • I can't see a juried inclusion system not becoming politicized and harming the spirit of cooperation that is happily the dominant ethos around here. 
    • I think there are resellers out there that are already doing what you describe. 
    • The type buyer (and the talented independent type designer) are probably better off with education and guidance on type being separated from its commerce. When ilovetypography converted to a shop (a very welcome addition to the market in many ways), it did raise questions about the growing dearth of independent critical voices in type design. Those worries would be furthered by a TD store I think.

  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 147
    Thanks @Craig Eliason, these are very valuable insights!
    • Existing Typedrawers visitors (I'd guess) are more makers of type than purchasers of type. So there's not a large built-in paying audience.

     The target audience would be the same as for every other font store, meaning that conventional online marketing would be a primary source of traffic. It would be funded by the commission rate.

    • I can't see a juried inclusion system not becoming politicized and harming the spirit of cooperation that is happily the dominant ethos around here. 

    This is a very important and delicate issue that should be discussed very carefully. I was aware that I can't predict the possible problems, so I put the accent on discussing the model, and TD store at the bottom just as a hypothesis. I've just changed the name of the topic from "TD font store" to "Optimal Font Store", because you are probably right that that possible store should be separated from the forum at all.

    • I think there are resellers out there that are already doing what you describe. 

    The only store I know that transparently implemented font versioning is FutureFonts. But they decide about new entries once in three months and not on fixed dates IIRC, which is kind of slow. I have tried once and I was rejected with a very short reply which didn't reveal the reason. Probably the concept wasn't interesting for them, because they are mainly focused on experimental and conceptual fonts.

    Not exactly sure why I didn't send my current project at some point (I will try again probably). They keep the quality with a very limited volume of new fonts, but their dynamics and number of published fonts are not exactly what I proposed. 
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,867
    - My guess is that a 30% commission rate would be optimal.
    Not really. With only 30% the store wouldn’t have enough marketing money to attract customers. 
  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 147
    That's interesting because 50% is often described as too much from type designers' perspective.  

    For example, Creative Market takes 30%. But they deduct tax from US customers automatically, so 50% is the average effective commission I've seen. 
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 685
    The thing missing in the market is excellent license handling.  Fontspring half heartedly tried to do it with "no hassle licensing" but all that ever really meant was perpetual.

    For many years there wasn't a real market for this because all the big customers just bought nearly all licenses from Monotype, so their legal team could count at least on only one set of terms. I have it anecdotally (a few larger company license complance people have reached out to me) that Monotype has been alienating them with the stuff others have observed in other threads (frequent changes to their license and having different terms on Linotype than on the main store).  I have not independently verified this but what matters is the perception, even if it isn't true.  

    Big customers know Monotype was bought and taken private a few years ago and I'mp pretty sure it's making a significant minority of them nervous. So, I think there's room right now if someone could enter the market with a good library and a licensing first message.  
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,279
    The thing missing in the market is excellent license handling.  Fontspring half heartedly tried to do it with "no hassle licensing" but all that ever really meant was perpetual.

    For many years there wasn't a real market for this because all the big customers just bought nearly all licenses from Monotype, so their legal team could count at least on only one set of terms. I have it anecdotally (a few larger company license complance people have reached out to me) that Monotype has been alienating them with the stuff others have observed in other threads (frequent changes to their license and having different terms on Linotype than on the main store).  I have not independently verified this but what matters is the perception, even if it isn't true.  

    Big customers know Monotype was bought and taken private a few years ago and I'mp pretty sure it's making a significant minority of them nervous. So, I think there's room right now if someone could enter the market with a good library and a licensing first message.  
    But you're not really talking about a reseller here (which is the topic of this thread), right? (If so, you quickly get to the issue of the same type going out under multiple licenses, which you've argued elsewhere here is problematic.)
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 685
    @Craig Eliason I'm flattered that you remember my other posts.  I am talking about a reseller.  You'd not need to have the fonts under the reseller EULA to take a licensing first approach to the storefront.  I'm thinking of something a little bit more sophisticated than what fontspring did (which did include using the foundry EULA).  You're right that it's not exactly replacing Monotype with the same thing that made monotype appealing in the first place, but I think it could be done. 


  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,279
    Gotcha, I jumped right to "EULA by the reseller" but you weren't saying that. But what more would you envision being done than what fontspring is doing in terms of pushing foundries towards practical and consistent EULAs? 
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 685
    edited April 11
    @Craig Eliason I honestly haven't thought THAT much about implementation of a licensing first reseller site.  I know, given that I think about EULAs constantly, it seems that I would.  But, honestly, I've only thought about reseller business models just long enough to decide I didn't want to start one.

    I do think that Fontspring is 100% wrong about customer feelings about perpetual, and I told them so.  Fontspring's pricing for perpetual licenses was generally the same as the price for Font Bureau 1 year licenses.  Speaking for myself, I tried perpetual only and customers demanded shorter terms.  That's because I priced perpetual correctly, which I later learned was similar to how Font Bureau does it.  The idea of "no hassle" isn't bad, they just didn't understand what it meant from the customer perspective.  

    In no particular order, here are the things I think matter (some to foundries and some to customers):
    1.  lawyer vetted on-site EULA agreement
    2.  EULAs need document numbers with the customer information on it so that larger companies can track multiple licenses in different departments  
    3.  Standardised meanings of jargon
    4. Standardised offerings of types of EULAs
    5.  Just admit that you're B2B, no non-commercial licensees
    6. platform neutral app embedding and web embedding that doesn't require url reporting (I solve this by being brand based but there are other ways)
    7.  Logos and broadcast are always included at the basic level




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