Monotype on its font-rental service, SkyFonts

Aims to spread a wider appreciation of type through trials

Monotype has announced the commercial release of SkyFonts, its service that enables users to try or rent fully functioning fonts. We reported on SkyFonts last year, at which time Monotype claimed the service was “flexible, fluid and economical”.

However, some users questioned the nature of the service, largely due to the short five-minute trial period, and the use of a rental model versus the more traditional purchase-and-own. With SkyFonts, customers buy blocks of 15 or more credits at $3 per credit, and these are then used to rent fonts—one credit will buy a font for a day and three will rent a font for a month. For a limited time, SkyFonts says all new accounts get ten credits for free.

Darren Glenister, product manager for SkyFonts, responded to .net’s queries about the ways in which the service differs from its rivals, its rental model, and also what benefit it might have for web designers.

.net: You refer to SkyFonts as "revolutionary", but in what specific ways does it stand out?
Glenister: SkyFonts is the only cloud–based font rental service. It gives the creative flexibility to test drive and license quality fonts for as long as is needed. Traditionally, the only way a designer could try a new font within a design was to generate an image from a website and import it into a design application. SkyFonts allows designers to try fonts direct with design applications like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. After trying a font, the designer can then choose the right font and license it accordingly. We’re proud of the fact SkyFonts will help spread a wider appreciation of type through trials and low-cost licensing.

.net: Why are trials limited to just five minutes? Is that not very short for someone who's working on a design?
Glenister: For test purposes, five minutes is longer than one would think. To speed up the choosing and using process, shortly we will be enhancing this experience with the introduction of a SkyFonts Adobe Extension that will allow designers to choose and use fonts directly within Adobe CS applications. This will allow the designer straightforward access to ‘try and use’ fonts.

.net: Why did you decide on a rental model and omit a purchase option?
Glenister: Traditionally, a desktop font is purchased on a perpetual license and can cost upwards of $50 for one weight. The cost can be prohibitive for some and can restrict freedom in choosing fonts. SkyFonts offers flexible licensing: fonts can be rented for as little as $3 for one day, or $9 for a month. Not only does it help those with restricted budgets, but it also allows designers to broaden their use of type, in particular during the development of new design concepts or ideas.

.net: From a web designer's standpoint, why should they check out SkyFonts over rival font services? Are you planning any web-oriented features/collections?
Glenister: SkyFonts is not a ‘web font’ service in the traditional sense. Fonts from the SkyFonts service are delivered from the cloud and sync directly to the machines specified by the user, with a maximum of five machines per account. The fonts are then available for use in desktop applications. These fonts can be used to create website templates in design applications like Adobe Photoshop. After choosing the desired fonts, a designer can separately publish web fonts online using the fonts.com web fonts service.