Virginia Postrel on the typefont revolution:
Beginning in the mid-'80s and accelerating in the 1990s, type design weathered the sort of radical, technology-driven transformation that other creative industries, including music, publishing, and movies, now face. Old business models and intermediaries disappeared seemingly overnight. Software replaced industrial processes. Tangible products–metal, film, computer disks–dissolved into bits and bytes sold over the Internet. Prices plummeted. Consumers started buying directly. From their kitchen tables, independent designers could undertake experiments that had once required bet- the-company investments. "Having an idea for a typeface used to be like having an idea for a new-model car," says [Michael] Bierut. Now the distance between idea and execution, designer and user, has contracted.
Though still a tiny number–maybe a couple hundred worldwide–more people than ever are making a living designing type. Many others, mostly graphic designers, have turned type design into a profitable sideline. And more people than ever are buying fonts.
For the rest, including how "the profusion of fonts appeals to a culture that celebrates expressive individualism," go here.