‘Um, Yeah, You’re a Real Business’


When we started Lost Art Press in 2007, our goals were simple: Print books that we want to read. Keep the overhead as low as possible. Don’t borrow money. Don’t do something stupid to overextend ourselves.

So John Hoffman and I stored and shipped all our books ourselves. (My sunroom and living room have been stacked to the ceiling.) We did our own accounting. We were our own webmasters, secretaries and janitors.

We’ve grown tremendously during the last five years, and we ship tens of thousands of books to customers and retailers all over the world. But we are still just two guys with laptops. No employees. No building, photocopier or debt.

storage_unit1_IMG_8516We’ve managed this by farming out everything to our friends and colleagues, from editing manuscripts to page design to filing tax forms. And today we took a big step forward by moving our warehouse full of books to MSL Packaging & Fulfillment in Indiana. We looked at using a big international fulfillment house, but MSL suits us better. It was started by two guys who always pick up the phone when we call (sometimes while eating bacon) and who share a lot of our principles.

This move will increase the speed with which you get your orders – MSL is jacked right into our ordering system. And it will free us up to work even more on books, woodworking, editing, layout and blogging.

If you have a problem with an order (it happens) you’ll still deal directly with John or me. We will never cut the line of communication to our customers. (If it weren’t for you, John and I would be in miserable corporate jobs.) All out contact information is here.

• If you have a question or problem with an order, contact John Hoffman at john@lostartpress.com.

• If you have a question about the content of a product, contact me at chris@lostartpress.com.

We answer all e-mail, even if you are a rude prig. If you don’t hear back from us in 48 hours, we probably didn’t get your e-mail. Try again.

Oh, and the title of this blog entry? That’s what our accountant said to me on the phone this week when I called with a silly tax question.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to ‘Um, Yeah, You’re a Real Business’

  1. Trevor Smith says:

    Congrats. You have both worked really hard and this is a great step forward for LAP. We will all look forward to many more great titles and projects in the years to come.

  2. Sean Hynes says:

    Awesome news. It still blows my mind that this is a two man operation.

    Now that shipping is outsourced, does this now mean that international shipping is an option?

    • lostartpress says:


      This is the next step toward international orders. We still need to line up an expediting service. And honestly, our shipping costs will not be competitive compared to ordering from our overseas retailers. And I wonder if customers would be willing to pay $14 shipping on a T-shirt.

      But we are working on it!

  3. toolnut says:

    Just curious, but what made you ask if you were a real business? Did you need independent verification to win a bet?
    Congrats on the vision and successful implementation of your dream.

    • lostartpress says:

      The question was about salaries. The accountant recommended we pay ourselves that way.

      I replied: “You mean, like a real business? Are you saying we’re a real business?”

      His reply: “Um, yeah, you’re a real business.”

      • miathet says:

        Glad you got good advice as a small business owner it is very important to pay yourself so that you understand the amount of labour you are doing so it is easy to separate yourself from your work and take time off. Oh yeah it’s really good for tax reasons too.

  4. lbcaterson says:

    I just had an order mix up recently, you guys went beyond above and beyond to send me the right book, I was however sad to mail the one I received back to you! 😉

  5. Eric R says:

    My O my how you’ve grown !
    Good for you guys !
    All us woodworkers have benefited from your growth as well.

  6. Andrew Robb says:

    I am an Australian and might be wrong but I think what you have achieved is what is called ‘The American dream’.

  7. Congrats to you both, now go enjoy your garages and living spaces again.

  8. carpenterman says:

    Come to think of it; not only have you inspired and taught so many of us how to improve our knowledge and skills in making objects (sometimes useful objects) out of wood, but subliminally you have also demonstrated to those who followed your blog for long enough and payed attention, how to build a successful business. – And that in an industry (publishing books) many consider reclining and taken over by electronic media and Amazon.com.

    Perhaps this will inspire and encourage those of us who still dare to dream to follow your example.

    Congratulations, and thanks for that.

  9. rondennis303 says:

    Dear Chris & John – Congratulations on your recent business development. Also, you are to be commended for the self-sacrifice in pursuit of your vision.

  10. Tim Raleigh says:

    …hmmm, and always thought LAP was a charity…just kidding. Congratulations!

  11. Paul McGee says:

    “(If it weren’t for you, John and I would be in miserable corporate jobs.)” … It wasn’t *that* miserable, at PWW, eh? 🙂

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