Popular Woodworking Corporate Owner Files for Bankruptcy — 13 Comments

  1. I simply realized I no longer enjoyed reading the magazine from cover to cover, and so let my subscription lapse. You’ve helped me understand why that happened.

  2. Why don’t you and other KEY people BUY Pop. Woodworking for a song and bring it back to a GOOD magazine like it used to be? I think you could generate a good balance between Online and Paper Print…
    You, Swartz, and other KEY people that left, I think, would be HAPPY to turn it around… Under New Management!

    Have you thought of doing that?

    Think about it… You could DO IT.

    Thank you,
    Joe Lyddon

  3. As a beginning woodworker I liked the Popular Woodworking subscription and had subscribed for 2 years; Just, I mean just subscribed for 3 years on 2/27/19. I paid by CC and will request refund and suggest there are others in this same boat and they should request a refund since the refund was for a subscription that would be in the future. I am in agreement with Joe Lyddon that you and/or KEY could buy magazine out of BR court and revitalize it.
    Tony Waddell

  4. Hi Bob
    I feel your pain and share your frustration. You didn’t mention Shop Notes. As a beginner that was a favorite but I dropped my subscription long before Youtube because I started seeing the same stuff over and over. Thankfully, the People who made such publications as Shop Notes and Pop Wood are still writing and doing through books, DVD’s and classes. Their market will find them, without the bean counting middlemen who are probably moving back in with their parents. Yes, print periodicals are as dead as Vaudeville, but through books I have a beautiful Craftsman kitchen and hopefully after the next class a nice Morris chair. As long as the people who know way more than I do- and there are plenty- this ‘ignorant reader’ will gladly pay the money, drive the miles, and give it my all to maybe become half as good. See you in Indy.

  5. Thanks Bob,

    I have even a greater respect for you after reading this post. It reveals your comprehensive knowledge of the “business”. Who said you’re just a pretty face who likes making boards smaller?

    Unfortunately, amateur woodworking will die with our generation, just as did those quality publications. I’ll continue to dig through my boxes of old magazines when needing an answer or idea.

  6. It’s a shame that American Woodworker and Woodwork were casualties of this foolishness. Those were quality publications. PWW made a lot of progress with their content but it proved to be too little, too late.

    The big challenge for a monthly magazine is that there are so many resources, a lot are top notch, on the internet that publish more frequently for free and provide personal feedback for questions. It’s a tall order to beat that.

  7. As a “wannabe” writer I fear the pattern that is so well described by the author. Nearly any fool with a reasonably good sense of grammar and syntax can “self-publish.” The content may or may not benefit from the invaluable work of a competent editor. The responsibility that goes with being an author has been displaced in part with the tasks of inventory management, marketing, and distribution. While the changes may appear to be subtle I believe that content has suffered greatly. Good authors do not automatically turn into good publishers and publisists. And newbies to the practice of woodworking – like me – frequently find it difficult to learn and grow with contemporary “how to” publications.

  8. Thanks for telling this story. You’re absolutely right that (almost) nobody wants to write the story of a failure, so I’m doubly grateful that you took the time to put this together. It’s an instructive cautionary tale, to be sure. I think we’ve all seen this story play out multiple times in many different industries, but we don’t always realize how common the story is. I’m curious about one thing, though. What’s the take-away for us? What’s the moral of the story? I’m especially thinking about people who work in a stagnant or declining industry? What’s the lesson for owners of aging companies facing new competition? What’s the lesson for people who work in such companies?

  9. Having been a subscriber of Pop Wood for many years, I used to look forward to the arrival of the next issue and the new and interesting content I would find within the covers….then things changed and it stopped being different from all the others…the writing quality seemed to devolve and the types of articles became boring and repetitive. I used to wonder how that could happen when the audience seemed to be there for the type of content the magazine used to publish, and now I know. I am familiar with the type of CEO you referring as I used to work for one very similar in a different industry…more interested in self-agrandizing than in making the company better. A sad day for all of us that loved and supported what you and the others who worked there tried to do.

  10. A year or two ago I subscribed to it. In my first issue there was an editorial stating that she wanted to publish articles from people other than old white men. I requested and received a refund.

    I have never purchased a magazine or read an article based on whether it was written by a man or women or someone of a different race.
    I think it potentially had good articles, but personally i won’t miss it.

  11. As a long-time and early contributor to Pop Wood when it was still in Concord CA and as editor for a while of Woodwork magazine i am equally saddened by what happened as a result of the Internet completely changing the publishing scene and the mis-managed corporate greed that followed. Omnis temporalis est. However I still believe that fundamentally content is king; we just have to find a new way to market it. Let me know if you have any ideas.

  12. I could take this blog, replace company and product names, resulting in nearly the same
    story describing the company that employs me. It might be easily called plagiarism if I
    posted my version. We did avoid the last stage (bankruptcy) and was sold to much bigger company.
    Once they opened the package it was clear how much was wrapping paper with little content inside
    the box. I blame the MBA degree, but that would be a very long detailed rant that I will avoid.

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