estimated sale of a font

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Steffen Heidemann's picture
Joined: 12 Feb 2006 - 9:56am
estimated sale of a font

hi there,

first of all, i do not intent to start a huge discussion here -
i think i can understand why the numbers are actually nonpublic and kept hidden.

i might be supposed to say, i tried to bring some light into this (for myself ) the last couple of days, read some discussions here at typophile and some other places, did a search on sales, contacted some folks at myfonts, etc.

anyway, it's just something i am interested in and i am still a bit curious -

i wondered if it would be ok to ask what some of you might think, e.g. about how often a font (approximately) sells.. i am not talking about classics here, rather about the younger type design results from the last couple of years..

are those a couple of hundreds or rather close to a thousand, or more.. ?

i can imagine that different aspects will play a keyrole in the answer, e.g.

- how interesting the original idea for the type is
- how well the type is drawn and/or digitized
- how many people actually know the final font exists (marketing)
- how well the font suits a certain contemporary need
- display and script fonts vs. text font

et cetera -

anyway, i was just wondering,
i hope its not the kind of question the majority will be offended by -

best to all of you!

Simon Daniels's picture
Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
Tiffany Wardle's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am

Just like fashion, those who license typefaces are a fickle bunch. Trends rule the day and staying fresh and original makes using the same typeface in the same market very undesirable. You have to be able to sell an idea to a client which sets them apart from the crowd. Very few "smart" clients ask to look like their competitors. I'm not sure you'll be able to get a straight answer because many foundries offer such a variety and cross-section.

Thomas W Phinney's picture
Joined: 3 Sep 2002 - 11:00am

What's most interesting to me is that if you line up the fonts in the Adobe Type Library by sales rank, and chart the sales, the graph looks like a parabola. A font at the median sells just a tiny fraction of what any of the top 10 sells, and the difference between number one and number ten is also huge.

What this means is that if you're reliant on sales (as opposed to doing work on commission), you're probably also pretty reliant on getting "lucky" with one or two big "hits." Kind of like the movie or music recording industries, perhaps?



Steffen Heidemann's picture
Joined: 12 Feb 2006 - 9:56am

hi again + thanks for taking the time -

i agree - there probably are better and faster ways (more calculable, so to speak) to make a living than by designing type. a newcomer would need a big "hit" (or two) indeed and get lucky to financially gain a serious outcome -

i also think the parabola analogy is quiete good, it seems comparable to the 'fact' that most of the time 5-15% percent of ones clients are responsible for 70-85% of ones profit.

let me be clear, i am not thinking about the actual profits here, nor the possibility of getting really rich in type design.

it is just the (approximate) numbers i am wondering about (i know, from there one could estimate the profit as well), e.g. the 'starlets' section at myfonts (mediocre example), some of the better known fonts at veer.. a really interesting brush type, script type, display font, et cetera..

kind regards

Nick Cooke's picture
Joined: 25 May 2004 - 2:29am

It's impossible to say. Some fonts don't sell at all, others sell hundreds per quarter. It all depends on the poularity of a font at a given time.

You may as well ask 'How long is a piece of string?'

Nick Cooke

Steffen Heidemann's picture
Joined: 12 Feb 2006 - 9:56am

You may as well ask ’How long is a piece of string?’

I like that comment -

My question is just strange anyway..

Thanks + best,