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Fontstand—a new way of font licensing

Ralf Herrmann

SkyFonts, Fontslice, Typekit, Fontyou—in the last years several new concepts of font licensing emerged. At TYPO Berlin yet another service was announced: Fontstand.

The concept of Fontstand is pretty simple: It offers desktop fonts only, which can be tested free of charge for one hour in every app on your computer. After that they can be rented per month for 10% of the regular retail price. If you continue to use the font, it will have been paid in full after a year and you can continue to use it as a regular desktop font. 


Fontstand solves the typical dilemma of professional font users: how can you test a font without paying for it first and without even knowing, if your client will approve of the font choice. The big players like Monotype and Adobe offer subscription models for this. You pay a fee and can use a complete library with thousands of fonts. But there is a catch: You need to permanently pay the rental fee for years to come if you want to continue using your fonts. 

But that is not the case with Fontstand. With this service you have the advantages of testing fonts free of charge and using them cheaply for a limited time, but you also have the benefit of getting a regular desktop font license after a year. 


Fontstand does not use a web shop in the browser. You need to run an app on your computer to use it. At the moment it is only available for Mac OS X, but a Windows version will come later. The app also contains the store. You can browse the catalog by font style, foundry or use the search function. There are currently no custom sample texts or glyph tables, but you can install the fonts with one click and then test them in your local apps. 


Even in this early stage, Fontstand is already a very convincing service. It offers advantages over the regular web shops, but without the disadvantages of most rental services. It’s also interesting to see who is behind the site and which foundries take part in this service. The concept was developed by Peter Biľak (Typotheque) and Andrej Krátky and the foundries are a selection of the finest indie labels: Type Together, Storm Type, House Industries, Typofonderie, Commercial Type, Bold Monday and so on. So the service feels like an answer of the independent labels to the offers of the big shareholder companies. And it looks like this service will be a great benefit for font users and foundries alike. 

More information and the Mac OS download are available here: https://fontstand.com

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I am basically sympathetic to the concept, but boy do they need some high impact headliners on their poster. One true flagship per category (Questa, Graphik, Bree Serif, Drone and Nitti) is not enough. We need to see true heavy hitters like real Garamonds, Frutigers, Futuras, Bodonis, Baskervilles, Caslons, Goudys, , Universes, Gills, Helveticas, DINs and so forth. As it is, this looks very much like a collection of replacement fonts. Imagine having House Industries on board and not getting Neutraface or Eames. That just makes no sense.

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