State of the Press November 19 2012 12 Comments

As you have probably noticed, the Cooperative Press author family has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past year, and we thought it was time to check in with you, our well-loved readers, to update you on the state of things from our perspective. It's been a challenging year, but we're doing our best to stay positive and keep bringing you the wonderful books you've come to expect from us. To paraphrase the inspiration for one of our first books, What Would Madame Defarge Knit?, these have been the best of times and the worst of times at CP. On the positive side, we have been publishing books we're very proud of, we've launched a new digital magazine, and we continue to be recognized more and more as a positive force in the industry. It means SO MUCH to us when we get to meet you at shows like Stitches, Rhinebeck and Vogue Knitting Live, to get feedback in person, to hear what you think about our books (and the state of knitting in general), plus so much more. We have told all our authors that we wish they could hear everything you tell us, both in person and online, because you really seem to appreciate that we offer a place for the creative, risk-taking work they do. Our sales numbers and our mailing list have been growing steadily this year. This is great. But there is a flip side. As you no doubt know, this is a very hard time for the publishing industry in general. Newspapers, magazines, and whole presses are shutting down left and right. Print publication has become prohibitively costly as the price of not only printing, but also the underlying paper itself continues to rise. It's a vicious circle. Many publishers are seeking ways to shift more of their market online -- an understandable and perhaps inevitable development. We are staying on the forefront of online craft publishing by working with developers like Sally Holt of the knitCompanion app, not to mention other projects that are still underway. (If you weren't at Rhinebeck, you may have missed the pre-announcement, but there will soon be a Cooperative Press-specific edition of KC, much like the Lucy Neatby special edition, featuring patterns from several of our books). However, we know that many of you still want paperback versions of Cooperative Press books, and we want to be able to provide this (though we are seeing a huge number of PDF-only sales as well, particularly overseas. Shipping isn't getting any cheaper either. This is another reason we've hired a new vendor to start converting more of our books to direct Kindle and iPad formats, too). We have had to make some tough choices that will allow us to continue to offer print as an option, to continue to print in North America instead of overseas, and to supply not only our direct customers like you, but also our wholesale customers such as yarn stores. (When one sells into a wholesaler, they receive a large amount of money off the retail price in exchange for the fact they typically order more copies at a time than a single customer does). The end result, after much research, debate and discussion, is that we have switched to a printer that uses a slightly different paper than our previous printers did. The covers are the same: heavy and high gloss, for durability. However, the interior paper is matte instead of glossy. (This is also a positive change from an ecological perspective. Here is some additional information on coated paper which illustrates this point). The paper is acid-free, high quality, and we have received excellent feedback on it at shows this fall. Switching over has been a small technical challenge because the paper responds differently to ink than the older paper did, and has caused some small color shifts, but we have been actively working on improving that issue. Another benefit to working with the new printer is that we can do smaller print runs, and therefore respond to errata fixes faster than ever before. No one likes to have errata in their knitting books, least of all us! The ability to fix those faster was yet another selling point for switching printers. The charts/schematics and other information you need to work the patterns are crisper and clearer than ever...we even had a few people note that the matte paper is easier to write on, if you're one of those people who like to write in your books! [Librarians and bibliophiles everywhere are gasping at that last comment — sorry, guys!] Also we can have books printed 5-6x faster than before -- even sent directly from the printer if we like, which comes in handy for yarn store and wholesale orders! We are sharing this with all of you because you are part of Cooperative Press' ongoing success. It's the whole reason we continue to survive while others shut down or shrink, and your book purchases directly from CP allow us to compensate our authors more fairly than any other publisher out there. Currently, we're gearing up for the holiday sales season, which is a challenge under any circumstances, and even more so for a company of 1.5 people. Yes, we are still only Shannon (publisher, full time) and Elizabeth (assistant editor, part time), plus a motley gang of fantastic freelancers -- tech editors, photographers and more -- and of course, our authors, who really put the 'cooperative' in our name by helping us and each other out in a variety of ways. But when it comes right down to it, Shannon is the only one in the main CP office day to day, and does about 85% of the book shipping herself when she's not responding to your emails and working on new books. Elizabeth works remotely from her home office in another state. We're constantly juggling to make sure everyone has what they need, and that you are getting the best possible service from us. Raising prices to accommodate the rising cost of print production was not an option, in our opinion. We'd rather look into ways we can give you loyalty discounts and other perks, as thanks for your role in helping the company grow. As soon as the holidays are over, we are going to do more work on that front. But please know that we love and appreciate everything you have done to get us to this point -- we just need your patience while we work out the kinks in our next stage of development. From the bottom of all our hearts, we thank you. WHAT YOU CAN DO Sometimes people ask what they can do to help CP continue to thrive. Here are some ideas...
  • preorder our new books when they're announced.
  • review our books on Amazon -- this helps people who don't know about us yet to find our books. Ditto posting reviews/etc on sites like Goodreads.
  • 'share' info about our books from our Facebook page into your timeline.
  • pin our books to Pinterest -- there are 'pin it' links, or you can repin from our book board here.
  • post projects you've knit from our books to Ravelry.
  • join our group at Ravelry and say hi!
  • email our authors if you like their books, or post comments on their websites! This means a lot to them! If you can't find their website, ask us (info @ cooperativepress dot com)
  • ask your local yarn store to carry our books, or bring in our authors for teaching/events
Thanks again. We look forward to continuing feedback from you.