I knew it was time to leave my job at a publishing company when the CEO proudly announced that “books are now commodities”. This was the same knucklehead who, in his first week asked “why do we have so many editors and so few marketing people? That needs to change.” It wouldn’t be the first time I made a major career shift. After 25+ years in the custom cabinet/furniture/architectural millwork business I loved making, engineering and designing things made from wood, but I had had enough of being tied to the construction industry and starting over every time there was a hiccup in the economy.
My first book “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture” was published 20 years ago, and the idea for creating it had taken root about 20 years before that. You can read about that here. When I build a piece of furniture my goal is that it will be around a lot longer than I will. There was a time when that was a common attitude and I apply that to what I write and publish. The value of a publication, be it a book, magazine or blog post is the information within. That first book led to several other books and a 10-year long stint as an editor and illustrator at a popular woodworking magazine. A while ago books one, two and four were combined into what is now “The Great Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture”.
Every now and then I take a look at my “author’s page” on Amazon to get an idea of how my work is selling and what people have to say about my work. The other day I found that the current edition of what started twenty years ago is among the 12 best-selling books about making furniture. It’s actually on the list twice; the hardcover is #5 and the paperback is #12. Sometimes I think that everyone who would want this book has it by now, but the American Arts & Crafts period of the early 20th century is an important chapter in furniture history, my book provides insight and details not found in “commodity” books about the period, and the avocation of making good furniture is alive, well and ready for the next generation to carry on.
So on this anniversary I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone who has purchased one of my books, or the plans I also sell. It is humbling to see my books listed among the books that inspired me as I was learning to make furniture. I also want to point out how the publishing business works. When you buy one of my books on Amazon you get a great price. Eventually a small percentage of the wholesale price comes to me in a royalty check from my publisher. That’s a significant part of my income and I am grateful for it. I also sell signed copies of my books directly at the listed retail price. I can’t compete with Amazon on price, but I’m not in the commodity business. When you buy directly from me (or any author selling their own work) the difference between wholesale and retail goes to the guy who had the idea and did the creative work. It does make a difference and I’m not planning on building a rocket ship anytime soon.
If you’re curious about the third book that is not included in the compilation, you can purchase “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors” here.
Thanks again for your interest in and support of my work.