Back in Stock: ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’

After numerous production delays, which I will blame on the mole people instead of the pandemic, “The Anarchist’s Design Book: Revised Edition” is now back in stock and shipping from our warehouse.

This is the fifth printing of the book, which means there are about 15,000 copies in circulation. By publishing standards, that’s a sad failure. But for me, I couldn’t be happier. 

As a young writer, I aspired to work for a major metropolitan newspaper with 500,000 people reading my stuff every day. Then, as a working journalist, I grew tired of documenting the failures and successes of others. I wanted to be the one to fail. And here I am, failing every dang day and somehow still eating (thanks for the cookies this week, Megan).

These books in the “anarchist” series – the tool chest book, the design book and the forthcoming workbench book – are as much about making furniture as they are about making a life outside the normal corporate structure. 

And as a bonus, the stuff I write doesn’t end up lining the Birdcages of America. Right? It doesn’t, does it?

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to Back in Stock: ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’

  1. Al says:

    “And as a bonus, the stuff I write doesn’t end up lining the Birdcages of America. Right? It doesn’t, does it?’

    If the birds start building tiny tools chests we will then know

  2. Nick Altenbernd says:

    No bird cage here. No workbench either. I’ve been on the verge of diving into a build of the KD Nicholson (I must have the KD feature) so I’ll wait a little longer – with ‘bated breath – for the completion of the trilogy, to see what other KD bench projects you may have evolved. Then I can build the anarchist’s tool chest, the anarchist’s staked arm chair, etc. etc.

  3. Justin R says:

    This is hands down my favorite and most used book of all time, that includes my SAT for dummies.

  4. Chuck Jackson says:

    I have absolutely devoured the books from Lost Arts Press, especially the ones you have written. Can’t wait for the Anarchist’s Work Bench. Keep on failing because you are fueling the woodworker and anarchist in me!

  5. Rob Collins says:

    Just today I was discussing the chapters on the staked sawbench and staked low stool with my adult son – some of the things we are going to build together in the coming weeks. (I’ve previously given him his own copy of ADB, now we are using the expanded edition.)

    And then I blurted out “this has to be the finest book I’ve ever put my hands on”. The feel of the pages is gorgeous, the layout and presentation is balanced and nuanced to make reading it effortless. The writing and content is thoughtful, provocative and inspiring. And the philosophy underlying the whole damn thing lifts it to a realm of its own in designing and making things in wood – and for that matter – in living a life as a half-decent human being.

    I’m particularly thankful that reading it saved my woodworking ass: before that I was gung-ho on building a chair that would have been unmanageable for my skills, untrue to my taste and a complete mess if I ever was to finish it.

    All of these qualities (there are plenty more to add) ensure that The Anarchist’s Design Book will be a profoundly useful work of art for my son’s son’s daughter’s daughter – and then some.

  6. Roger says:

    There always the bird cages of Australia…”

  7. Darryl Rees says:

    Excitedly waiting for the Workbench book

  8. Danno says:

    Is that 15000 copies of the expanded edition? Because that only came out less than a year ago and 15000 x 49 = $735,000 (or does that include the download-only sales?). It’s not Random House but I wouldn’t call that a failure. I don’t think Steve Jobs-style judgements about success/failure (i.e. it’s either a billion dollar hit or it’s garbage) are all that useful. Very few people have that kind of success. And probably many of us don’t even want that kind of success. Maybe if you are constantly on the edge of bankruptcy, you would have to question the viability of the business and call it a failure. But if it is generating reasonably stable income/profits, I would call that a big success. I know this blog is focused on woodworking but I for one am interested in the publishing business as well so I hope you will continue to occasionally touch on that subject. I’m even curious about the book design process. I think your books are beautiful. And I have books by other publishers that are sometimes not that beautiful (regardless of whether the information is any good). But I don’t really understand why. I’m sure the people designing those books are not idiots. So why are your books consistently attractive?

    • Hi Danno,

      I am always happy to be transparent about how we work. Let’s have some interlocution!

      “Is that 15000 copies of the expanded edition? Because that only came out less than a year ago and 15000 x 49 = $735,000 (or does that include the download-only sales?).”

      That’s 15,000 copies total, both editions. No pdf sales are included in that number. The revenue number is gross – net is MUCH lower because our books are expensive to make. Expensive to ship, store, pack and etc.

      “It’s not Random House but I wouldn’t call that a failure. I don’t think Steve Jobs-style judgements about success/failure (i.e. it’s either a billion dollar hit or it’s garbage) are all that useful. Very few people have that kind of success. And probably many of us don’t even want that kind of success.”

      It’s a failure by normal publishing metrics (usually 100,000 units is where success starts). I am happy with our numbers, but I am laughed at by my friends who work for “real” publishers. That’s their problem, of course.

      “Maybe if you are constantly on the edge of bankruptcy, you would have to question the viability of the business and call it a failure. But if it is generating reasonably stable income/profits, I would call that a big success.”

      Thanks. We have never been on the verge of bankruptcy. We started our business in 2007 (not a great year….) and so we run as lean as possible. Little overhead. And lots of cash reserves.

      “I know this blog is focused on woodworking but I for one am interested in the publishing business as well so I hope you will continue to occasionally touch on that subject. I’m even curious about the book design process. I think your books are beautiful. And I have books by other publishers that are sometimes not that beautiful (regardless of whether the information is any good). But I don’t really understand why. I’m sure the people designing those books are not idiots. So why are your books consistently attractive?”

      Thanks. They aren’t idiots at other publishing houses. They just have a different goal. Most books have an 18-month life cycle, from first printing to remaindering. We want to keep all of our books in print for the rest of our lifetimes. That goal changes how you look at every aspect of the manufacturing. Instead of “what will save us $1,” it’s “what will survive a flood, dogs and babies.” We actually asked our press people that.

  9. Danno says:

    I forgot to mention durability. I have had some books fall apart on me because I was constantly opening and closing them and they were glued instead of sewn. That probably has more to do with the economics of book publishing than design but I’m curious about things like that. How much more expensive is the book going to be if it is sewn? What are the economics of on-demand publishing? Why not publish everything on-demand instead of committing to large inventories?

    • More interlocution!

      “I forgot to mention durability. I have had some books fall apart on me because I was constantly opening and closing them and they were glued instead of sewn. That probably has more to do with the economics of book publishing than design but I’m curious about things like that. How much more expensive is the book going to be if it is sewn?”

      It adds about $1 to the cost of manufacturing.

      “What are the economics of on-demand publishing? Why not publish everything on-demand instead of committing to large inventories?”

      On demand (POD is the acronym) is far more expensive in per-unit when manufacturing. But you have no inventory and little waste. It’s a totally different business model than ours.

      Plus, no matter what anyone tells you, the quality is lower. No sewn signatures. Heck, no signatures. Just glue. I know POD is getting better all the time and they will catch up with offset printing some day. But it ain’t today. When that happens, we’ll probably dig in even harder and do things that POD can’t do. I love old-school offset printing. And I wish I could do letterpress….

  10. johnny de wit says:

    how do i buy a copy?

    • Don Lewis says:

      Chris,
      I am a (suddenly) retired surgeon now twelve weeks post op my own double lung transplantation. I’ve been a woodworker forever, but with my activities severely limited, your book The Anarchists Toolchest, has been a Godsend. Every sentence gets read more than once, since I take so many medications that my mind is sometimes cloudy.
      You are not only a good writer, but self-effacing and clever. You seem like a really nice guy, something I didn’t fully realize watching Roy.
      After many decades, I have learned that Rich Guy, Handsome Guy, and Powerful Guy are forgotten. Not so, nice guy.
      I’ll buy every book you write. Post op therapy. I dream of the first day I can return to my shop.
      Don Lewis
      At Duke Transplant for 8 weeks more)

  11. Myx says:

    As long as the “news” print business continues to jam political pandering to polarized pinheads and purely emotional and salacious opinions designed to provoke and inflame the current whim, there will exist sufficient periodic publications that will be chosen before your books to line bird cages.

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