Fonts in your face

This year is the year of the typeface, the year of the downtrodden typographer. The year the foundries saw the dam burst. There is no way back, no way to put the genie back in the bottle. What’s worse is that we’ve seen it all before.

The music industry tried so very hard to stop people downloading illegally. Every measure they took to prevent the illegal downloading failed, and failed very publicly. There is no stopping the path of least resistance. This is the consumers path to nirvana and it’s pointless to persuade them to walk another path. So what happened?

Well, Apple’s iTunes is what happened. Another path revealed itself, another path of little resistance. In fact is was so easy to download and pick tracks because they were easy to find and they all had the same low price. You didn’t need to think, just click. People started buying legal music. In fact it wasn’t that cheap and it had DRM. These things are apparently secondary, we just want it now with no questions asked and iTunes delivered.

It’s not that copyright is dead, consumers just never deemed it necessary. To them copyright is completely and entirely irrelevant. 

The little, tiny, world of typefaces basically suffers from the same problem music did. Buying fonts and copying fonts are so far apart that buying a font becomes this arcane exercise. Why on earth would you do such a thing? Fonts are notoriously difficult to find/select and the pricing makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Forget about finding fonts licensed for web, they won’t allow it. We don’t care about legalities, we just want that font now with no questions asked. You know, like iTunes.

Linotype’s FontExplorer almost gets it. But the (varying) cost for a single typeface prevents that illusive impulse buy. Pricing is all over the place, so we move on. It will never work until they simplify their pricing and licensing.
With the advent of linkable fonts via ‘@fontface’ in all browsers this year I fear the worst.

I for one have opted for an open source typeface on this site. The foundries have failed me, so I’ve moved on.


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