Every day (and most nights) I am working on the first issue of The Stick Chair Journal, an annual publication that will expand the universe of sticks chairs. More history. More plans. More techniques. Reviews of tools. And Big Thoughts.
The writing, photography and design for the first issue is coming together nicely, and Issue No. 1 will be released in the fall.
Every week, I’ve been pitching my ideas to Megan over lunch. Two weeks ago, I laid out the design aspects of the Journal, plus some of the mechanical aspects (paper stock, cover stock, binding, trim size and the like). As a writer and an editor, I got quite excited about the way it would look.
Then I did what every good publisher should do. I got out my calculator and pencil and did a proper P&L (profit and loss statement) for the title.
Woodworking is a niche. The craft of chairmaking is a room inside that niche. And stick chairs are a cockroach hole in the baseboard of that room inside the niche. So now our plans are to print 3,000 copies of the first issue. If it sells out, we’ll sell pdfs of the first issue and consider increasing the press run for the second issue.
So I’ve had to make some changes. Instead of hiring an artist to draw the masthead for The Stick Chair Journal, I decided to construct it myself using fonts we already own. Same with the cover border – I can get about 95 percent of where I want to be by modifying some clip art we own. Instead of hiring a woodcut artist to make a cut of the chair featured in the issue, I’ll simulate that effect in Illustrator.
Oh, and my plans to commission a series of woodblock initial caps for our stories? I nixed that, too. So, tonight I am making our own custom woodblock initial caps – using wooden children’s blocks that I am modifying with gouges and engraving tools.
While all this might sound like I am retreating or giving up on my “dreams,” I feel the opposite. By doing this work myself, the first issue will become profitable if we sell only 1,000 copies. And that small fact ensures there will be issues Nos. 2 and 3.
— Christopher Schwarz
62 thoughts on “‘The Stick Chair Journal’ & a Sharp Pencil”
I’ll take one
How about preorders so you get a better idea of quantity?
Hate to try to buy one and find out they were sold out the first ten minutes.
There is no way these will sell out in the first year (much less 10 minutes). We haven’t even sold 3,000 copies of “The Stick Chair Book” so far.
We used to take pre-publication orders for books, but it wreaked havoc with our customer service people. Many people ordered two (or more) books by accident. Or they didn’t order but thought that they did. The way we do it now saves headaches for both us and customers.
In any case – I promise we’ll hold one copy back for you if necessary.
Yes, it’s necessary. Hell I’d even sign up for “The Stick Chair Journal Book of the Year Club”. I want them all.
Now that’s the gift that keeps on giving, Clark.
Yup that has happened to me more than once. But it’s ok, A copy at the school/Shop and one at home.
I like the preorder idea AND a subscription idea. I’m trying to give you my money – please take it…
Thanks for the extra effort. I will order my copy asap
We’ve gone this far… I’m all in. Very excited to be in that cockroach hole inside the baseboard. I’m looking forward to the book.
hmmm. . . can certainly understand the problem. How many copies of your Stick Chair book sold? I would think most everyone who bought that would want one of these. . . . I know I will get one.
Indeed. We know exactly how many of each title we have sold and what the interest is in our customer base. I look at 15 years of sales data to map out things like this. I’m usually right; sometimes wrong.
Count me in,
I’ll take one!
I am excited about this. I love the cover above. Right now I am reading the hedge chair chapter in Irish Vernacular Furniture. The trim on the cover reminds me of that. Nothing would stop the hedge carpenters from building chairs not even scarcity of materials. With no formal training to boot. Thanks for doing this work and inviting people along.
You certainly are a “scrapper” So difficult to maintain your dream. We could have a good time over coffee, somewhere, sometime. Stay the course, watch for iceburgs. 👍
Will you have an option to buy only the pdf or get a pdf with your paper copy?
There will be two buying options:
Hardcover option – YES!!! I cannot wait.
Consider preordering to gauge interest
A lot of us would preorder. But I suspect the problem is that the Venn diagram of “preorders” and “folks who Chris knows from his data would be part of the 1000 to 3000” would look like a single circle. Unless there were 3000 preorders, it would likely be hard to justify a run of more than the 3000 he cited.
Will keep an eye out for this for myself and see about recommending it to my local library if possible (up in Canada so no telling if/how they can get stuff from you folks)
Yeah, I’m in canada too, so i hope some of these will make their way to lee valley do we can grab a copy.
i tried recommending LAP books to my library system and got a (likely) automated response about the library not being able to purchase LAP books through their supplier. if i had the excess cash i would just order a full set and donate to the library, but am a poor starving full time musician with 3 kids. any ideas on how to get a real person at the local library to actually look at these books and invest in at least a few?
Consider doing a run of blog posts, or a book, on profitable if not massively wealth-building business for craftsmen-people.
Good for you. I can’t wait to get the first issue.
My first thought on seeing the cover was “Wow!” I like it a lot. Doing it the way you did makes me like it a little more.
I understand you trying to replicate your youthful experience with the Radio Shack Battery Club, but is a Stick Chair Book of the Year Club really the answer? Maybe a good therapist can help.
Also, Megan says to stop bothering her at lunch.
Love anything you write and publish. The outstanding “Stick Chair Book”should win the Pulitzer Prize. Count me in as well for the Journal
You sound quite apologetic about “making do” with home done design/graphics. What you’ve shown looks great to my eyes. If you are selling to a cockroach hole inside a small room inside a niche, I’m willing to bet that the number of buyers inside that cockroach hole who are “stick-chair building LAP fans who are professionally trained in high level graphic design” is perhaps a dust mite hiding under the bed of the cockroach.
You have good design sense, it will be fine and most of us won’t know see the “defects” that you will see. I’m even hesitant to call that a “compromise,” but for lack of a better phrase I’ll say that is a worthwhile compromise to make to ensure it gets to print.
Love the idea using kid’s alphabet blocks. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Keep up the good work!
Sounds a lot like the process for the anarchist ‘zines from back in the day. How about a special edition where the cover is made from letters and images cut from other publications, poorly Xeroxed and hand stapled!
Let us know when you are ready for pre-sales
Good Luck with Volume 1 . In the ADB – Chapter 7 you mentioned being enamored as a youth with barstools . Perhaps this could be the subject of volume 10 or 11 or… Regards
I’m in. I want to hear your views on the door seat. How sad am I?
I thought woodblock type had to be backwards. Will you make a print, scan it, and reverse it? Or am I just wrong?
Exactly right. Carve, ink, print, scan, reverse.
Very nice cover! Looking forward to the first issue.
Dear Sir, don‘t forget to safe some copies for the old continent. I, living in Germany, had to buy my Stick Chair copy in Sweden. Please let your international followers know where to buy to the right time. Thank you so much!
This blog, the make/can-do attitude, and the serialization concept are another group of reasons to support your work. Keep it up!
Keep on Keeping On!
As the now-retired owner of a graphic design and commercial photography firm, I applaud your ‘do it yourself’ philosophy. If you’ve got skills, use them. The content is much more important than the window dressing, and if its a wild success, selling reprint after reprint, invest some of the returns in design where necessary…
Chris to save you some time and labor…
I used a typeface named Baby Blocs for a T-shirt project. I believe it is a free to use typeface. It is in truetype format, but could be converted to outlines using an “Illustrator” syle application.
I agree re pre-orders or maybe a subscription plan. Either way (or not) I certainly will buy a copy & pdf. Looking forward to it!
Rock on, I will be buying a copy. Congrats on award too. Is there any ideas you can share to beat the high cost of wood? Maybe poor mans plywood,..strips of hard and soft wood glued together used to make everything except the seat, to cut cost??
When can i get on the list
I’m with Tim, “proud to be in the cockroach hole”. I am in the process of building my first chair and love it already. I just keep getting more questions but figure I’ll try them on the next chair. I’m in hook line and sinker.
Yes Sir count me in
If I can persuade the UK Distributor of your products, will they be made available to the UK?
Well, I’ve bought the book so without the journals it will seem like a chair missing its splat…in other words, I’m getting one (or whatever number of issues you generate).
As a former graphic arts professional, I believe you are on the right track. Doing tasks in-house that might be more convenient to buy as a service should help control costs. Best wishes to you!
I’d like to preorder the first issue.
“Stick Chair Field Notes” could’ve been a good name but some stationary company stole the “field notes” moniker.
You’ve cracked! I love it: “ So, tonight I am making our own custom woodblock initial caps – using wooden children’s blocks that I am modifying with gouges and engraving tools.”
Necessity is the mother of reinvention!
Looking forward to your 1st issue.
Looking forward to the first issue. Sign me up!!
Sounds like a stick chair approach to publishing.
You could buy a fancy lathe… or just grab a block plane, and ‘think round.’
Can I place a preorder or standing order to buy the additional books. I work long hours and by the time I get to check the internet, you are already sold out, ie the dovetail marker and the birch chair plans just released. Thanks for the trouble
I’m sorry but we cannot do pre-publication orders or standing orders. Our company is simply not built for it. However, we will have a way for you to be notified via email when the book is released. Details soon.
If you use the toy blocks, the letters will print reversed left to right. Or had you already factored that into your plan?
The images can easily be reversed in our image software.
Your second to last comment (sentence) says it all. To the effect, ‘if I do it myself, it will cost less, we make more money’. I find that so many of today’s business ‘leaders’ are always looking to close certain operations and pay someone else to do the work. My perspective, as apparently is yours, is that ‘if they can do it, we can do it at lower cost, with higher quality and in a much more timely manner.’ Today’s ‘managers’ who cannot see that are in the wrong business and are a detriment to their employees’ and company’s success.
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