Saturday, September 09, 2006

Publishing trends

Recently, someone sent me a link to an article in Publisher's Weekly about knitting books. Titled "The End of the Yarn," the article questions whether the trend of publishing knitting books has legs:

In the hobbies and crafts category, knitting began to take hold about six years ago; no one knows why. But in a post-9/11 world, the activity has continued to increase in popularity. Publishers, of course, have responded with books and more books. But now comes the challenging part. Is knitting on the verge of becoming a widely established American hobby (like, say, gardening) or is it headed for the fate of philately*?

The article notes that while knitting books are still being published, and many are focusing on younger knitters, knitting-book sales have already peaked. Publishers, afraid that the new knitters and younger knitters will lose interest and move on to another fad, or that this segment of the market is already saturated with books, are now looking to a broader audience. Apparently, one way to address this change in the market is to target books for intermediate, rather than beginner, knitters. Or as one editor quipped: "You can knit only so many beer cozies and then it's time to move on."

Another interesting development noted in the article is the "cult of personality" that has attached to knitting. Publisher's Weekly credits this to Stitch N Bitch, Deb Stoller's extraordinarily popular book, noting that she is photographed on the cover, and pointing out that subsequent knitting books continued to feature a particular writer and her personality (citing, among others, the Yarn Harlot). The article concludes that the reasons people have taken up knitting are complex, and so it's difficult to predict exactly how that will impact the market. (Don't you love these "conclusions"? It's like those studies showing that people who take taxicabs frequently are less likely to own a car, or that children in dysfunctional homes are more at risk. Duh.)

I found it interesting that this article appeared right around the time that you, gentle readers, were yourselves raising some of the very same points in the comments to my blog. Yes, you are Faith Popcorns, all of you, and I think it bears pointing out that the little snitfest that just concluded in the comments section ultimately raised some interesting issues about knitting books, issues which were touched upon in the above article. To wit:

  • the sheer quantity of new knitting books that are being released. Is it too much? Is the knitter getting simultaneously overwhelmed (by numbers) and underwhelmed (by quality)? Or does the increased quantity create more variety, more of a chance that someone, no matter what their taste or skill level, will find a new book to get excited about?
  • Others bemoaned the focus on young knitters, or what the market apparently perceives as young or new knitters. Think about it: how many books either directly -- "young," "girl/girls/grrlz" -- or indirectly -- "funky," "hip," "fun" -- market themselves to a younger generation? And let's not even mention the dreaded (and, as Lisa Myers likes to point out, insulting) phrase "it's not your grandmother's knitting." Is the market focusing on new knitters at the expense of those with more experience or advanced skills? Is the market neglecting knitters older than, say, age 30? In this regard, note that there is a book being released this fall that is aiming for an older demographic: Never Too Old To Knit: Beautiful Basics for Baby Boomers (the same cover photo of which appears, oddly, on another Amazon listing titled -- I kid you not -- AARP Beginner's Guide to Knitting).
  • Still others lamented the speed and/or simplicity factor, ostensibly marketing books to beginners, but resulting in a dreadful same-iness, both in titles ("quick," "easy," "fast," "simple") and in projects (scarves, rolled-brim caps, anything made of quadrilaterals sewn together). I know that a book which features more complex patterns or focuses on a particular skill (e.g., felting, fair isle, cables) is more appealing to me, but I'm an experienced knitter and I enjoy doing my own thing with projects. Not everyone is or does.

Trisha Malcolm, Vogue Knitting's editor, is quoted in the article saying that VK is trying to focus less on patterns, which can go out of style and look dated quickly, and more toward books like the Vogue Stitchionary series, which catalogue stitch patterns. This is great for adventurous knitters and those who like to design their own items, but there's also a population of knitters who enjoy following patterns that someone else has figured out. There's a great deal of trial and error in designing, and these knitters would rather let someone else do the trying and erring. I can relate: sometimes I just feel like following a pattern and letting my brain take a breather.

I have no grand answers for you about the future of publishing knitting books. I love books, though, and I love knitting, so it stands to reason that I love knitting books -- or at least, good knitting books. And if for every couple of "Quik 'N' Dummed Down Knitting for Funki Hipster Chix" book that is released, there is one really good, innovative book, well, then, that's a balance I can live with.


But behave yourselves, please.

* Also known as stamp collecting.


Anonymous said...

Hmm... I read the Publishers Weekly article and I found it very interesting. I'm an experienced knitter, and I am left cold by all of the cute "learn to knit" books that are now out, as I already know how to knit and so many of them seem to be geared towards a "younger" style type ("hip," "funky," etc.). However, there are other books being published, like Nora Gaughan's "Knitting Nature," which is innovative and thought-provoking, and Big Girl Knits (one of my personal favorites), where even if you don't love the patterns, the 30-page discussion at the beginning of the book on how to play up your assets and play down your negatives is (to me) absolutely invaluable. I think there is room for both types of books, and I don't think that the "phenomenon" of knitting will vanish. It may cool down, not be as trendy, but people who have discovered knitting and love it will continue to knit. Hopefully, they will interest others who will then need the beginners' books. Perhaps the publishers will see that we need not only the fun beginners' books but also the books for experienced knitters who want inspiration and/or new techniques to try.

Lola and Ava said...

I haven't read the article (thanks for the recap, though) and it kind of sums up everything I feel about knitting these days. I tend to knit for the enjoyment of the craft. It gives me something to do in the evenings when I am not grading papers (all too often, these days), but there is also a finished product. I will credit Stitch 'N Bitch with reintroducing knitting to me because I had lost touch with it for about three years. After that initial push, however, the patterns seemed really trite and trivial. I didn't need the double entendres when it came to the pattern names and the projects just appeared to look suitable for an 18-year-old, not a 36-year-old. I used to get really irrated with new books that had 76 pages of instruction on how to knit before the actual patterns occured. Now, I just don't buy them. The books that I am buying are the stitchionaries, the EZ library, and the ones that act like cookbooks (pick a yarn, pick a pattern, here's how). My daughters are getting to be the same way. They know how to do the easy stuff and there are only so many cozies/scarves/boxy sweaters that one can knit. All three of us are working on either projects we made up or projects that will keep our intereset (meaning lots of different patterns or techniques). Every so often, a "girlz" type book will have something of merit in it and I'll buy it, but books like More Celebrity Scarves just don't cut it any more.

Anonymous said...

AARP Beginner's Guide to Knitting and Never Too Old To Knit: Beautiful Basics for Baby Boomers - What a relief, finally some projects I can hope to finish before I die ..

Dorothy Neville said...

my biggest irk is all the errata. just a quick glance at mason-dixon and I saw three obvious mistakes. look at their site and you will see that there's actually many more. I don't mean to snark them in particular, this was just one of the first knitting books I purchased and it surprised and disappointed me. just find it so frustrating that publishers don't do a better job with editing. How many cookbooks have errata on 10% or more of the recipes? I have lots of cookbooks and have only seen an occasional typo in the entire collection.

will the plethora of knitting books stay in print long? probably not. but will the errata pages continue to be accessable on-line? Does purchasing a knitting book or magazine mean you *have* to have internet access to find errata?

Carol said...

Dorothy, what I usually do is print out the Errata and put them in the back of the book. That way I can check at the same time as I consult the pattern. Or you could keep a looseleaf notebook or file folder with all the errata in them.

Anonymous said...

I agree that if one good book comes out for every two (or, let's face it, five) idiotic ones, that's an acceptable ratio.

Except that it's not, really. In a perfect world, I'd definitely live and let live, but in this one, the "sooperqwik!" project books and what have you are shoving the good books off the shelves. Bookstores, libraries, even yarn stores only have so much space and capital to devote to knitting books; while I wish they'd think, "hmm, best to spend what we've got on a diverse range, then," that's not always going to be the case.

Taken another way, I think that as the trend winds down, what we'll see is fewer and fewer knitting books on the shelves, and the "knitting for people who never think for themselves" titles won't be the first to go. Sigh. Thank goodness for self-publishing, eh?

Elizabeth said...

Part of the problem with the overall quality and tone of knitting books seems to be explained by simple economics. For every ten folks who were ever beginner knitters, maybe one went on to become experienced. (I'm making up numbers here, but they seem plausible to me.) Any book pitched at experienced knitters is going to have a much smaller potential market than an introductory one. Further, all the books for experienced knitters tend to focus on one aspect of the craft: fair isle, bohus, arans, etc. That narrows the appeal for these books even more. Getting a big publishing company to consider picking up the specialized titles is going to be a much harder sell than another redundant beginner book. Personally, I think all the beginner books the world needs have already been written, but obviously the corporate bean counters are still seeing dollar signs. 15 years ago I could look forward to an occasional new visual feast from the Hebridean Designer Who Must Not Be Named, Kaffe Fassett, Kristen Nicholas' New Classics books, or any of a number of others. Now it seems like there just isn't as much to get excited about as there was then. It's not just because I know more now. I'm not the demographic the publishers want and I'm not interested in most of what they're selling.

mamaloo said...

Lola and Alva, I agree that one of the main things I crave/look for in knitting books is a recipe aspect. With the fantastic range of yarns available (or not available) to knitters, it's essential to be able to swap out yarns for one personal preference. I think it helps to teach the basics of design, too, so that eventually one can mix and match features of different garments/accessories.

Another thing I'm attracted to are books about knitting, not nescessarily with patterns. We're starting to see more of this with the Knit Lit and Yarn Harlot books and I'm super happy that Stephanie's essays have gotten longer with each book. I like to read memoir-ish writing about knitting. It compliments the pattern books to round out my participation in my favourite craft practice.

Ultimately, I want all my pattern books to be filled with fascinating essays about the patterns: how the designer arrived at the patern, why that particular lace pattern, why they liked fingering weight over DK, what inspired the colour choices and what colour choices could be good substitutions, why a particular cast on was chosen or a particular make one, why the designer prefers northern winters to southern springs, the merits of tomato soup, amusing anecdotes about grandfathers...

I'd also like to see Carol write a book with indepth info on yarn substituting and how to adjust patterns to account for differnt yarns choices :)

Carol said...

Mamaloo, I'd like to see me write a book, too. ;)

mindy said...

I pretty much did my book collecting when I re-entered the knitting world after my daughter's birth 8 years ago. So I did collect lots of Debbie Bliss and such. Also, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, various sweater collections, one of the "recipe" books, etc. A much smaller percentage of books out now catch my attention- I've moved on I guess, or I feel like my collection is enough (unless something REALLY good comes out- the Norah Gaughan for example). Like Mamaloo, I enjoy the essay type books now. Other than that, I guess I'm no longer the target market either. I really don't mind- and if one book out of only 20 is all that catches my eye- well, there's that much more $ left for yarn...

mindy said...

And by REALLY good- I just meant not full of beginner, hip, etc. No offense intended. Just good in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I'd sure love it if at least a few of the upcoming books were inspirational--you know, the kind where you might not actually follow any of the patterns, but would pick the beautifully done book up off and on when you need to get fired up again about your knitting or just see amazing things wrought by brilliant people.

Remember your first read-through of Kaffe's Glorious Knits or Alice Starmore's Fair Isle Knitting or Poetry in Stitches or the Bohus book or Norsk Strickedesign or Handplagg or Knitting Nature?

That. That's what I want.
Except for the Norah Gaughan book, haven't seen that for a while.

Of course, I'm waiting excitedly for Maie Landra's book.
But then that's me.

Anonymous said...

The publishing world is so strange. I was a buyer for a large independent book store for a dozen years and saw so many trends come and go, with every pub. and every imprint of every pub. trying to get on board. Sometimes things don't stick--in 1988 there were a bunch of books on Feng Shui (my Chinese-Amer. huband, not one to speak softly, said, "WTF is all this peasant superstition crap?"). They disappeared, then a few years ago, a tsumami of new ones, and ladies becoming "Feng Shui Masters."

In 1988, the addiction/recovery book shelf was one small, shelf. Suddenly there were hundreds of titles--it wasn't just my stepmother who was 12-stepping.

Who knows what we'll see in a year or so--I certainly expect the hip knitting gurlz stuff to weed itself out. Like Kathy Merrick, I can't resist something really fresh and inspirational--Kaffe's books, Knitting Out of Africa, etc.
I probably won't use the patterns, but love to have my eyes opened to possiblities as I work out my own designs.

Jude in obscureknitty

Anonymous said...

I find looking in yarn stores for books on knitting much more rewarding than the big box stores. I'm lucky in having a little independent place near here, Celeigh Wool. I rarely leave without a of the old classics reissued, B.R-B book on Guernseys, spinning books etc. My favourite sight for books is Needlearts.
I think we'll leave behind some of the band wagon knitters, but definitely not all new knitters. One that I taught to knit last year is working her way through a stitch dictionary, doing a square of each one, and figuring out why and how each one works. The other day out grocery shopping, I caught her walking behind a guy, muttering and moving her fingers as she tried to figure out the stitch on his sweater. She's gonna stay, and she's gonna want quality books.
Like the one Carol will write as soon as she has the time.
And the one Mar is writing.
Barb b.

Gail said...

I don't think the entire knitting book market is full of hip, cool knits. There have been so beautiful books out - from my own bookshelf there are Handknit Holidays, Inspired Cable Knits, and Vintage Knits.

Plus, there are pattern books put out by Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding (her new stuff looks to be gorgeous), and Adrienne Vittini, to name a few. Add in the independent folk publishing individual patterns (Fiddlesticks, Heirloom Knitting), and there's hardly a dearth of challenging material out there.

Honestly, a lot of the old Starmores and Fassetts don't stand up well to time. I have most of those author's books, and while I can appreciate their colorwork and pattern, the shapes are pretty bad, and not really classic - unless a huge drop sleeve 80s sweater is "classic".

Of course, that doesn't stop me from knitting Starmore's Queen Anne's Lace, but I recognize that I'm going to probably look like crap wearing it. I've been joking that I'm going to frame it. It's beautiful, but these days, not particularly wearable. Unless leggings really do come back in style. *shudder*

Anonymous said...

I'm totally on-board with the "books as inspiration" folks. I occasionally follow patterns, especially for things I've never made before (first sweater, first glove), but mostly I like to get general ideas and take it from there.

I understand the urge to push the hip-to-knit type books while the trend is hot, but I tend to find it irritating because I'm in the target demographic, but I've been knitting since I was a kid so I don't really need my hip knits to be easy, fast, and on big needles. I want hip *and* interesting to knit.

Also, tragically, leggings are coming back. I don't know what that will mean for the drop sleeve sweater though. ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear, Gail, are you one of those knitters who think the only good garment is one with waist shaping?
Because it's so necessary and fine looking?
Wait a heartbeat and watch that trend look stoopid and dorky.
Just like long large loose sweaters look to folks now.

And individual patterns put out by individual knitters is not what we were longing for just now and here.
We were talking about being revved up by beautiful well-thought-out books.

Whether you approve of Kaffe and Alice or not.

Mari said...

I just got back from the VK tour of scandinavia and this was one of the topics that was floating around the group. I'm in my mid 30's, everyone else was significantly older. But I've been knitting for 11 years now, and long ago gave up the simple/quick/funky/chunky knitting, didn't even really start it. There was as wide range of answers and thoughts there as there are here.

I've collected the classic authors, patterns and a few of the new ones, but I too am tired of the easy stuff and rarely buy a book these days. I consistently return to my AS, Meg and Elizabeth books, the older books on cabling, fair isle and lace to look for something to do.

The market is over saturated with easy books. Every year there are less and less books out there fore the intermediate, advanced knitters being published. The big question is how to get these scarf and hat knitters to the next step, and the sad thing is, at least for now there's going to have to continue to be thick yarn out there, but now they can do cables with it, or a little shaping for a coat. Eventually they'll decide that they want to make something on smaller than #11 needles, and maybe head for that 6 or 7. Some of them have picked up on socks, and are having fun, and are getting it.

Its not only a question of whats out there, its a question of time investment. Do they really have the time or want to put more than 10 hours into a project right now.

Time will tell, I'm just thankful I invested money into the pattern books years ago and have a stash to work with.

Anonymous said...

I read the article, I cannot remember where, and of course it was written/published by non-knitters about publishing houses/editors who are non-knitters. It is the same old problem. I am not sixteen or twenty-five, I do not wear a size eight (and I never will again). Does it ever occur to these people that if fewer people are buying their pattern books it is because the patterns are ugly and repetitive? I do not do 'trendy' in my knitting except for the occasional fur scarf. I do not know a woman over twenty years old who wears these, I make them for little girls. My disposable income and knitting time are severely limited and I am not going to waste either on teenage trends (endless successions of shrugs for B cups or teeny purses that won't even hold a wallet, never mind my life). Thanks for the rant, Toni in NYC

Anonymous said...

One more thing...(or two or three):

(1) Sorry Gail, all the fashion windows in midtown manhattan are showing leggings (and boxy, long sweaters and tunics) for fall this year.

(2) 'She-who-must-not-be-named' -- I am sure who it is but why can't she be named? I am late comer, here.

Thanks, Toni

Carol said...

Yes, the 80s are back -- can mullets be far behind? It only goes to prove what I've said about the 70s: Only people who didn't live through it the first time are willing to wear it the second time.

Toni, there is a very famous & extraordinarily talented Scottish designer who loves to sue people and threaten to sue people. If you go you will find links to Jenna's detailed description of some of the legal action she's been involved in. One of the most frequent issues has to do with protecting her intellectual property rights, including use of her name. Having led many in the knitting community to refer to her by euphemism, for fear that merely speaking her name, like Lord Voldemort, will beckon her.

Anonymous said...

I think there's room for everyone, even if the titles and pattern names of some of the stuff aimed at the thick 'n' quick knitter make me cringe. If it gets one more person knitting, that's cool to me. And the fact that there is room in the market for all of these trendy books has allowed a bunch of extremely talented designers to publish even more books that appeal to people like me.

There are a bunch of people in our local knitting group who have expressed an interest in expanding their knitting libraries beyond Stitch 'N' Bitch lately, and I so love to see that transition. One of my friends who started on scarves and had been lamenting that she would never progress beyond that just did her first sweater for her father, and then went straight into lace and fair isle.

I'm thrilled that there are books out there that simply inspire, too. I'm not sure that publishers would be willing to spring for those books if the other trendier ones didn't exist. Or if they would spring for them as often as they appear to be doing now. Would the production of these books be as gorgeous as it is if the market weren't so big? Not sure.

The errata thing is a symptom of how fast publishing occurs these days in general, not just in knitting books. I'm an editor and writer who comes from a publishing background, and the need for speed has really cut down on the willingness to let an editor take her needed time with a manuscript. Dontcha get me stahted on that one...

Unknown said...

I think the publishers may be missing out on a big market of middle aged knitters with disposable income and incurable book lust. I have a use for simple knits, and funky styles - there are teenagers on my gift list, after all. Still, as an intermediate knitter, I don't have so much interest in beginner books. I have a need for some how-to, but not for knitting scarves. My concern is that once the market is saturated with "fast and easy" the publishers may feel there is no need for further knitting titles of any kind.

Unknown said...

Well, I've spent the better part of four years writing about this topic on my blog. Here's what I think:

The book market for knitting is going to slow down. Does that mean that knitting books will be relegated to the discount tables? Yes, to some degree.

Project books, to me, are usually a bore and I seldom buy them, with some exceptions. My library's emphasis is on technique and stitch patterns. However, there are a few really worthwhile books out, pearls before swine, as it were.

I'm with Kathy--I look for inspiration as much as anything. I have books on Japanese textiles, Colonial textiles, you name it. Wherever there's inspiration, I'll use it.

As far as the personality book thing is concerned, I was asked to rewrite my book with that in mind. And I'm fine with it and am so doing. However, I can't for the life of me understand where it's going to be of interest to those other than my friends and family. And yeah, I'll throw designs into it too. But I have never read one of Stephanie's books, nor have I read Wendy's either. I'm too busy learning more about knitting, spinning and weaving.

Anonymous said...

What does the increase in the popularity of knitting have to do with a "post 9/11 world"?
Marilyn, you make me laugh and think. That's why people want personality.

Anonymous said...

I'm a self-taught knitter and am painfully aware that there are huge gaps in my knowledge and understanding of knitting and garments, so the books I'm wanting are selected to fill in those gaps. I see few books these days that fit that, and I've bought so many in the past few years that have ended up being disappointments that I'm now fairly suspicious about all of them, and less likely to buy any. There are a couple that I'm looking at getting: Beth Rrown Reinsel's (sp?) book on guernseys, and Deb Newton's book on designing, but neither of those are recent titles.

Something I wish someone would do is to take a sweater, step by step, from start to finish. It could just be a plain crew-neck with set-in sleeves. Show us everything: why the cast-on was chosen and how to do it; how to sew the shoulders; how to sew in the set-in sleeves if you did or didn't use full-fashioned shapings; how to pick up stitches around the collar and deal with the gaps. I know, you can find all this in technique books --and every designer has their way of doing things-- but those are separate from the pattern books, and I think it would be really useful to see the 2 things side-by-side. It's easy to write "sew the sleeve into the armhole", but -- in my experience, anyway -- it's never quite that simple. And that's when the instructions in both the garment book and the technique book fall short.

Come to think of it, sometimes my experience of applying the information from the technique books to the sweater has been like trying to use the online help for Access 2000: if I already knew how to do what I was wanting to do, the help would make sense. I remember, several times, staring at pages in Stanley's "Knitters Handbook", realising I knew how to do the technique, but not understanding how to apply it to the situation I was grappling with so that I'd get the "neat, clean, professional" result that Stanley was telling me I should be aiming for, and that I was seeing in the photo of the model sweater in the pattern. If they could do it, why not me?

I think Maggie Righetti did this for a baby sweater in "Knitting with Plain English", and I own a booklet of men's sweaters (all size 38) from Ondori that has fantastic illustrations for things like this. I dunno about Maggie's book, but I know that the Ondori publication seems to have vanished. Perhaps the book I'm wanting already exists in recent publication; if so, please point me to it.

There's going to come a time when beginning knitters graduate from scarves and hats to sweaters, and they'll need good finishing information to make those sweaters. Even some of us non-beginners could use the help.

Long comment. Sorry Carol: edit as you wish.

Anonymous said...

I suppose no one's surprised to see me agree with Ted.
Cool that so many of us are on the same page. Heh.
I think what I'm wanting to say to knitting book publishers is basically: aim a little higher.
I'd like to see books done by people who do things and make things, not some editor whose expertise is marketing rather than knitting and telling a good story.

Oh, and it occurs to me that the current best example of what I'm longing for is Selvedge magazine.
Gorgeous, fascinating, inspirational and introduces me every issue to colorful people doing amazing this with fiber.

Anonymous said...

That, of course, would be "things" with fiber.
Feh typing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Selvedge does it for me to. The only knitting book I have bought in the last two years is Nora Gaughan's Knitting Nature. Instead, I am buying technique books like Color and Fiber and design.

Knitress said...

I think we've seen some very interesting intermediate/advanced books in the last year. Not nearly as many as I'd like. But Stewart Tabori and Chang (the Melanie Falick imprint) and Potter Craft are both putting out books I'm buying.

Knitting Nature (love Nora Gaughn's work) and Big Girl Knits are recent purchases. I have friends (adventurous beginners) who are entranced with Mason-Dixon Knitting. Last-Minute Knitted Gifts has a big following at my LYS. My copy of Scarf Style is dog-eared. I was impressed with Teva Durham's Loop-d-loop and Inspired Cable Knits, but haven't yet purchased either.

I'm a little amused by the current trend of turning-blogs-into-books. Stephanie makes me laugh beyond reason, though.

My ideal knitting book combines really cool visual eyecandy with knittable patterns and some thoughtful writing about knitting and knitters. I loved Knitting in America and I'd like to see similar stuff!

Hardcore technique books are super. But some of us learn better from classes; I'm one of them, and so most of my learning $$ over the last 20 years have gone to attending them.

I especially like the books that are "take interesting designer and let them play". I'd love books from Beth Brown-Reinsel, Kathy Zimmerman, Veronik Avery, and Kate Gilbert.

Susan R. said...

I hadn't thought about it that way, but I'm with Ted. The other day I was trying to teach a relatively new knitter about socks. I ended up loaning her two books instead of one. Socks, Socks, Socks, for the very good line-art illustrations and a very basic sock pattern and the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns for all the gauge and stitch count information. I haven't had a chance to look at Schurch's book yet, maybe it's already done. But like sock knitting there are other examples of garment construction that require you to go to multiple sources (if you have them) to get the details. It would be great to have a definitive reference.

Kelly said...

I read this same article too. I think the piece was more of a forecast for the future of new knitting books being published and not about the decline of the popularity of knititng. Just because publishers aren't interested in publishing as much books about knitting geared toward 20 somethings anymore doesn't mean that the amount of knitters out there have decreased. That's like saying that home remodeling is not popular among the masses anymore because the amount of new titles regarding this subject is lower this year than they were a year ago at the same time.

Yes the hobby of knitting was a fad that may be calming down somewhat but the art/craft will always be with us because people like to pass down information to younger generations. Though publishers were only interested in publishing knitting books to the younger set to make some quick cash, they continue a tradition that all of humanity practices on a daily basis -- sharing information. I appreciate this no matter how many "beer cozies" or "fun fur" patterns I see out there.

Anonymous said...

My publisher sent me this article and I told him that I or any number of knitbloggers could have told him all he wanted to know about he knitting book industry, he just needed to ask. :)

I also wrote him a long rambling email that covered many of the points disussed in your comments and I'm seeing many more I hadn't thought of. Very interesting stuff. I haven't read them all yet, but I plan to.

Melissa said...

Here, here, Ted!

I am a self-taught 20-something knitter who's fairly new to the craft, and I own very few knitting books. The reason is that so many are pattern books that are subject to the whims of fashion. Plus, I might only like one pattern out of the whole book-- spending $20 on a pattern instead of yarn is a choice I will never make. The books that I do like are reference books, though like Ted I have yet to find one that does well at applying the techniques to the whole process. If someone could recommend one or two "essential" basic references (if any) I would be grateful.

As a new knitter, I do like to follow patterns, but the projects I have done I've gotten off MagKnits or Knitty or from a magazine. I think smaller, serial publications are better for patterns because I can read a pattern through thoroughly at my leisure to make sure I understand without spending a significant amount of cash.

Sorry for the long post, but I felt as a knitter from the demographic those books are aimed at I had to weigh in!

Anonymous said...

I know I am late to the party on this one, but here are my two cents.

I am somewhat new to knitting and I love finding more books about knitting. For me I am on a search for a few good or interesting ideas for guys (three percent of the market according to the article). This being said, I am always interested in what my next knitting goal should be. I can knit the simple stuff, but am dreaming about what I will be knitting in a year. For example, I love the Greetings from Knit Cafe" book because it is not a complete beginners book and has interesting designs that fit my, and my fiances, taste. But I look forward to trying one of the really interacte sweaters out of the Loop de Loop book. I know I can't do the sweater from Loop de Loop now and even grumperina thinks I am being too ambitious with my choice, but I like to know what the next ten challenges are going to be for me in my craft.

Just Saying...

Deborah said...

Commerce depends on trends and pyramid schemes in order to make the big money. I am interested in just enough industry bantor to learn about textiles and costs and new and old creative designers to help me to further my craft and what it will cost me to indulge (is it really cashmere??).

I ranted on my blog about market analysts trying to manipulate a successful market to get a leg up on the next trend. Can we all just knit along?