Planet typography MyFonts
The typographic Times


[November 2001],
the of typo

Laurence Penney Interview


Can you describe the concept of ?

We want to be the first place people come when looking to buy fonts - in a way that Amazon has done for books, except that we can provide our fonts for instant download. We offer fonts from a broad range of foundries, some at very low prices to appeal to people new to buying fonts - this is a market we treat with particular respect. Open to font buyers & font vendors worldwide, we continually update adding and improving features to make is easy for people to find, try out, and buy fonts. Somewhat like an auction site, we leave the setting of prices of fonts to our vendors.

You might find interesting this short paragraph with which we describe ourselves to font buyers: “ is an E-commerce & reference website with superb tools for finding just the right font: WhatTheFont automatic font identifier, TypeXplorer and a great Search engine. Offers 14,000+ fonts from dozens of vendors including Linotype Library, Bitstream, P22, URW++, Elsner+Flake, Storm. Contains discussion forums, plus information on 1200+ type designers & 3000+ web links.”.

Do you consider yourself as a competitor of major typefoundries (Agfa, Bitstream, etc.) ?

To some extent yes, but in others no. Naturally customers can choose to go direct to a foundry, or to come to a reseller like So in that sense we try to make sure our website is appealing to visit. But we do not promote the brand as a font foundry - on the contrary, we want to let the foundry’s brand shout loudly through the pages of We want to see our brand associated with: the bringing together of many thousands of fonts in one place; great tools for finding just the right fonts; introducing font buyers to brand new fonts “straight out of FontLab”; easy purchasing (you don’t need to give your credit card number out to numerous foundries); and generous commissions for foundries. These are all things we can do much more convincingly than a single foundry.

Do you make a selection of the types you sell or anyone who has created a typeface can sell it through your site? In other words, are you an editor or a seller ?

If we notice possible trademark infringements, we advise designers before their fonts go on sale and encourage them to settle the matter with other claimants on the trademark. We also reserve the right to withdraw fonts from sale if we are made aware of an infringement - of trademark or copyright - at a later date.

As for aesthetic judgements, we do not block fonts from sale if some of us on the team happen to dislike them. If we discover technical problems with the fonts, we’ll raise the matter with the designer. If the problems are serious, we would remove the item from sale until the problem was resolved.

Buyers would in general get automatic access to updated versions.

Who is behind the company ?

The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bitstream, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.

How do you do the promotion of the typefaces you propose ?

A number of ways. New batches of fonts are announced on the front page, and announced in our monthly newsletter to users. And we feature a random font on the front page! (For this feature, we only select fonts that have an article alongside them.).

Are you going to create an affiliation program ?

We already operate what we call “Referral Agreements”. If any organization believes they can refer a significant number of customers, then they should get in touch with us and receive a proportion of our commission.

Is it a profitable business to sell types ?

Since we can get the costs very low, thanks for being a web-only operation (no disks, no postage expense, delivery by download, support by email) we believe so. I can’t give you precise profit figures, but you may be interested in these figures from a recent press release: “As reported in a recent press release, revenue from the Company’s segment for the three months ended June 30, 2001 was $168,000, an increase of $65,000 or 63% as compared to $103,000 for the three months ended March 31, 2001, and an increase of $160,000 or 2,000% as compared to $8,000 for the three months ended June 30, 2000, which was the first quarter its e-commerce site went live. In other words, we are experiencing excellent growth.”