First Look: ‘With the Grain’ Cover Deboss

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The best thing about leaving the corporate media culture after 22 years was that I restored two words to my lexicon: “yes” and “no.”

During the last two decades, most traditional media slashed production quality – paper size, paper weight, paper coatings, cover stock, binding quality. Think I’m full of crap? Pick up a decent magazine from the 1970s (no, not Nuns & Nazis) and compare it to its stunted and skinny 2013 progeny.

It’s easy to blame the Internet for this, but the real cause is far more nuanced and is not something I like to argue about in the comments of a woodworking blog.

Anyway, back to “yes” and “no.” When we print a book, we spend a lot of time mulling the manufacturing details. Some details you might not notice, but that’s OK. We do. So when our printer says, “That will cost you extra,” our response is almost always, “That’s fine. Do it.”

The cover deboss for Christian Becksvoort’s “With the Grain: A Craftsman’s Guide to Understanding Wood” is a good example. To get a deboss with this level of detail on a cotton cover, we had to invest in a copper die and rounds of experimentation. Most media companies I’ve worked for wouldn’t bother, saying (foolishly) that it wouldn’t help sales.

But we think it makes for a better book. And better books sell for longer than the typical modern 18-month book cycle.

And what about the word “no?” That’s the best part. We can say “no” to publishing books on routers and table saws and birdhouses that will have broader appeal. And we can say “no” to selling our books through home centers and discount booksellers, which choke small bookstores and publishers.

Now that we’ve approved the cover deboss – the bindery can finish the job. The book will be trucked to us shortly. And I hope that when you open your box from Lost Art Press, you will say: “Yes.”

— Christopher Schwarz

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
This entry was posted in Books in Print, Personal Favorites, With the Grain. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to First Look: ‘With the Grain’ Cover Deboss

  1. Randy Clemetns says:

    Too. shallow. depth. of. field. ;)

  2. Michael Burda says:

    Sweet. Great job and look forward to reading and seeing this micro masterpiece. Have a smooth day. Michael J.

  3. Julien Hardy says:

    What’s wrong with dovetailed birdhouses ? :-)

  4. jverreault says:

    Since I am north of your border, when will Lee Valley be stocking this tome?

  5. Padraig says:

    Thank you Chris and all of Lost Art Press. I have purchased a few of your offerings and value them.

    Please up the good work.

  6. Keith says:

    Sold! I knew if you made enough posts about this book I would end up buying it. (is that half-wit enough?)

  7. kedmist says:

    Sold! I knew if you made enough posts about this book I would end up buying it…thanks!

  8. dodie says:

    I entered publishing the year before the Mac Plus was as the Superbowl, and soon watched galleys of Helvetica spit out of our laserwriters like watching the birth of a baby. I left publishing after every production related task, proofing and printing was sent to the “I” word. I don’t buy books from the “A” word, and will spend insane amounts of money at museum bookstores and used bookstores – as long as it wasn’t printed in the “C” word.
    I for one, am emphatic that you choose to publish in the USA, choose the paper you print on, and care about the cover enough to want to touch it. Thanks!

  9. Bob Davidson says:

    Yes, yes, yes…I can’t wait to get this book. I’ve signed up for a weekend workshop with Christian Becksvoort this spring/summer at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. I am impressed with Mr. Becksvoort’s work and his woodworking articles, and I want to make sure I do my homework before learning from him in person.
    Oh, and by the way, my 1960′s copies of Playboy magazine are far superior to typical magazines of today! (Too bad I wasn’t old enough to buy them in the 1950′s!

  10. Ray Huntley says:

    The thing I like best about your publications is the old school quality. If we are using high quality tools to build high quality projects why wouldn’t we want to purchase a high quality book? It’s worth every penny to me to own a book with such attention to detail.

    Ray

  11. sablebadger says:

    I think that both mass market, and small press publishing have their place in our ever evolving connected world. Lost Art Press is a perfect example of this. They have a dedicated, and involved audience, that is willing to pay for the quality and care put into the releases. I’m VERY pleased with all of my LAP books, and will pretty much buy everything you publish because I trust the quality of knowledge, and product will be there.

    Mass Market books have their place too though, and I’m please the world has found a way to deliver both and have them be successful.

  12. Sam I Am says:

    Yes, you can count the publishers that do this quality of work on 2 fingers, I for one still enjoy the experience of reading a actual book, over other digital forms, LAP books are a pleasure to break in, touch, and yes best of all, read!

    Thanks Chris

  13. Bob Davidson says:

    Lost Art Press is kind of like a micro-brewery, very intoxicating.

    From the photo, the cover of ‘With the Grain’ appears that it will be the same quality as ‘Mouldings In Practice’, from which I am getting a sensuous pleasure from holding; kind of like holding a fine piece of wood, you just don’t want to put it down.

    I think I am going to have to build another bookcase, just to hold all of my L.A.P. books.

  14. Moxon says:

    What’s a magazine?

  15. tsstahl says:

    Pity. I have a noted dearth of quality cloth covered volumes about avian domiciles in my book collection.

  16. Jim M says:

    Chris-

    You are exactly spot on with focusing on these details. Last evening I was reading more of the Anarchist Tool Chest and was admiring the quality of cotton cover, binding and paper…really. It will be a true reference book for me as I renew and reboot my interest in working wood. Thank you for your mission and focus!!!

    PS. Keep it coming!

  17. johnhippe says:

    Thank you for choosing quality. Too many companies are simply trying to cut costs to boost profits. As you are proving, along with some notable tool companies, is that there is a market for quality.

  18. Unfortunately, production quality isn’t limited to just print, as we all know. It grates me every time I walk into, well, just about any store. It seems the tide is starting to turn back towards quality in some areas, if painfully slowly. At least options are beginning to appear again.

  19. Thank you Chris.

    I come from a long line of book lovers, not just the content, but the medium. My gran was a librarian and teacher for almost 50 years and as a child I was recruited to repair and rebind books over the summer with her. I still do binding restorations on occasion. I received my copy of “The Anarchist’s Tool Box” on Saturday and the first thing I did was comment on the binding and how wonderful it is to see that quality has not been forgotten.

    Speaking of Anarchy, it seems we are kindred spirits in more than bookbinding and woodworking. I am half way into the book and it is wonderful.

    Thank you again, your efforts are greatly appreciated.

  20. cleo says:

    I haz envy.

  21. Kevin Wilkinson says:

    This is one reason why you’ll always have me as a customer. You say it a lot better than I did.

  22. Tim Henriksen says:

    I loved that silhouette the first time it was posted. Looks great on the cover for the latest LAP release. All the attention to details by LAP is greatly appreciated. I’m amazed my original copy of ATC is still together despite all the abuse from camping trips, days by the pool and in the sun, hours spread open on my bench dusted with shavings, coffee and occasionally beer. Meanwhile, a coveted signed copy of Build A Chair From A Tree is losing pages faster than my head is losing hair.

    • Megan says:

      Tim, you should bring Alexander’s book with you on your next visit, and have it rebound at the Ohio Book Store (same folks who do LAP leather covers). They’ve saved a couple of my beloved books over the years.

  23. Bill Hanetho says:

    I do love the books from LAP. The feel of the book in the hand is great. Reading these, I get the same good feeling as using a high quality hand tool. I too, may have to build a seperate case for all those books. Made with care and pride here in the U.S.A. They are definitely worth the price. Thank you Chris for everything you do for woodworking.

    Bill

  24. Being able to say “Yes” and “No” is a wonderful thing.

    Because I want my woodworking hobby to remain fun, I’ve used the latter several times when someone requests a commission and I can sense it will be the kind of challenge that doesn’t produce growth.

    When you aren’t the boss, though, you have to be prepared to justify your answer… and accept the label of “troublemaker”.

    Meh. I can live with that.

  25. Reinhardt says:

    Yes, I just ordered one. As always your attention to detail is appreciated.

  26. jborgschulte says:

    As a former graphic designer (who left the field precisely because of that “lower cost over higher quality” philosophy), I applaud you, Mr. Schwarz.

  27. sawdustmaker says:

    Sure am Glad I ordered one. I just wonder if it will arrive before the USPS stops Saturday deliveries LOL

  28. Graham Burbank says:

    When you offer the highest quality available at a reasonable price, your product will sell itself, be it books or cabinets. If you go ten steps farther, and make it to a rediculously high standard of quality and workmanship, some people will still recognise the value and pony up. So I gotta sell a few more kitchens to pay for the roubo leatherbound copy, so what? It’l be the best quality book published this year. period.

    • Graham Burbank says:

      I just dug out my first edition Audell’s carpenters and builders guide and looked it over. it is a smallish paperback trade manual, not meant to be in someone’s grand library, yet the cover is embossed and the edges are gilded (gildt?) . So how long before we can see a gilded,leatherbound edition with a hidden picture when you fan the pages back? Does anyone, anywhere, do THAT sort of thing to books anymore?

  29. Bryan Robinson says:

    Your books are wonderful, so keep up the good work.

  30. Great point on the blog post. This is why I purchased the deluxe edition of To Make as Perfectly as Possible. It is certainly not because I really wanted a 400 dollar book; I have a long list of tools this could have bought. But, I love supporting the small guy. A great team of folks spent a great deal of time putting in effort that the rest of the English speaking woodworking world will benefit from. And the more people that participate the greater the chance we will have future books that cater to our interests published.

    Keep up the great work and I can not wait to read my copy of With the Grain.

    Cheers

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