A Dumb Way to Run a Corporation

bickford_family_img_6454

One of the reasons John and I started Lost Art Press was because we were crazily enamored with the work of people such as Christian Becksvoort, Peter Follansbee, John Brown and a whole host of other people who built things by the sweat of their brows.

One night about 11 years ago over a few beers, John and I both proclaimed that we wished we could send these people large sums of money to thank them simply for doing what they do – no strings attached. Something like Medici-style patronage.

One problem: John and I were neither rich nor royal.

So we started Lost Art Press as a way for us to support people we genuinely adore. We offer generous terms to our authors (more generous than any other publisher I know of). And we keep their books in print for as long as the authors allow (which we hope is forever).

So this is why we don’t publish books from just any woodworker. Every living author in our stable is someone we know personally. I have seen their work. I have eaten with them and have a sense of who they are. And I’ve developed a strong respect for the way they treat others and the way they approach their work.

I won’t work with someone I don’t want to sit down and eat a meal with.

It’s a hilariously stupid way to run a corporation. We should instead be chasing authors who will make us the most money.

Today Matt Bickford (author of “Mouldings in Practice”) stopped by the Lost Art Press storefront with his entire family (shown above), and their boys roamed free around my shop playing with my vises, lathe and whatever else wasn’t tied down, barbed or electrified.

To see this thriving family that lives off of Matt’s salary as a planemaker was a gas. It’s rare to see a family unencumbered by corporate jobs, mindset and schedules. After a raucous visit, they headed off to see the Cincinnati Art Museum and maybe the Fire Museum. A park? The aquarium? It all makes me tired just to think of it.

So yeah, we want to support more of that.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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19 Responses to A Dumb Way to Run a Corporation

  1. Roger Benton says:

    BICKFORDS RULE.
    HOFFMAN RULES.
    SCHWARZ RULES.

  2. You’re doing a wonderful job Chris and John. >

  3. occasionalww says:

    I want to support more of it too. LAP is at the top of my wish list every year for Christmas.

  4. occasionalww says:

    Oh, and now, Crucible Tools as well. 🙂

  5. hiscarpentry says:

    That’s the best way to do it! I thank God every day for the freedom in the work I have as a “self”emplyed carpenter/cabinetmaker.

  6. Paul Straka says:

    Simply beautiful!

  7. Having a personal policy is the best way to run a business! – mine has always been ‘if I wouldn’t leave my children with you – I won’t do business with you’
    so Chris dinners at 7 every evening , the tools are sharp and there’s plenty of wood in the woodshop.

  8. Charles Taylor says:

    And this is why I buy Lost Art Press books and because you have excellent content and because the books are well made and because . . .

  9. And I support Lost Art Press, I have 4-5 of your books and I plan to keep buying until I have all the books that interest me. Of course you keep printing books so it’s not fair. I look forward to Mary’s book on carving so as long as you keep printing I guess I’ll have to keep buying.

  10. Deniseg says:

    And that is one of the many reasons I buy all of your books. Even the ones that don’t particularly interest me st the time.

  11. seawolfe2013 says:

    You are doing a good thing and very lucky to be in the position to do it. Just keep up the good work.

  12. wooddocker says:

    And thus I will buy all that you publish.

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  13. Karl Newman says:

    thank you for running your corp. this way.

  14. davelehardt says:

    Nah, not dumb. Just makes you hoo-mon and not a French…

  15. The “stupid” way you run your corporation is the reason I have a bookshelf full of your books.

    Buying books from other companies is a crap shoot. Is it going to be just a compilation of articles I’ve already read? Is the information going to be sub-par? Is the writing going to put me to sleep?

    When I buy a book from LAP, I know it’s going to be quality throughout. The author is going to be an authority, the information will be good, it’s going to be a good read, and the physical quality is going to be amazing (especially with the print + digital model; I can have a physical copy to fondle and a digital copy to read).

  16. hgordon4 says:

    The world would be a better place if more people ran their businesses the way you guys do.
    And Bickford’s planes are great. I love my half set!

  17. What makes Lost Art great is the same thing that makes The Woodright’s Shop, the original Ford Motor Company, and Apple Computer great. All are, or were, the product of one uncompromising individual with a clear vision of what they wanted to make. No committees, marketing research, or focus groups. Never change, Chris.

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