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Dear Ben & Frank

What are your opinions on the current conventions of font pricing?

Question Submitted by Anonymous

Ben SaysHaving designed a fair amount of my own type I understand how much time and effort it takes to develop a good font family. I think most fonts are reasonably priced for large projects and businesses, but I know it’s very difficult for small design firms and freelancers to always purchase type. I think part of the problem is that it can be extremely difficult or unrealistic to convince small business clients of the value a specific typeface can bring to their project, but I don’t think most designers want to rip off or undervalue the work of type designers.

That said I don’t think it’s realistic to expect students to purchase type. They already have so many expenses that dropping hundreds of dollars for a font to use on a non-commercial project just isn’t realistic.

On a side note I heard Rich Roat from House Industries speak a couple years ago and he was talking about a website they were developing for a photo lettering catalog they had acquired and were digitizing. What he said was that they were making a site where you could log in and set the word or phrase you needed and view it in all of their typefaces. Once you found the one you wanted you could purchase the type on a letter by letter basis and the site would output an EPS file for you to use in your work instead of purchasing the entire font. I don’t know what the cost will be per letter but this seems like a wonderful solution for display typefaces where you don’t need to set large amounts of copy and don’t have the budget to purchase an entire font. This might not the the best and final solution to the font stealing problem that plagues our industry but it has the most potential of any ideas I’ve heard so far. I haven’t heard or seen anything about this since Rich’s presentation but I’m hopeful they’re still working on it.


Frank SaysYou know, I think typefaces are generally priced fairly. Creating a typeface is hard, time-consuming work. Also, their applications are wide-spread. Both should be valid reasons for their prices. If the price of a typeface is prohibitive for you, the solution is simple: you just don’t buy it.

But honestly, when’s the last time you used all of those fonts in you’ve accumulated? I’d like to assume if you’re any kind of designer worth your salt, you’ve got ten to twenty work horses that are doing a ton of work for you.