Thursday, September 8, 2016

Quilt Book Stats

Wallet Two by Mandy Pattullo

Last week I did a survey/giveaway asking readers how many quilt books they've bought in 2016.
Below the results---Illustrated with some altered books and book art.


The results were no surprise to me as there is a direct correlation between the number of quilt books sold every year and the number of shoes in my closet. Both numbers are lower than they used to be.

A cup by Cecilia Levy

I counted 190 responses.
Bought No Quilt Books: 19 - 10%

Bought 1-5: 103 - 54%

Bought 6-10: 36 - 19%

Bought 11 or More: 32 - 17%

Rachel Ashe, My Owl Barn

Now, this sounds pretty good for the publishing business and the authors. 90% of you bought at least one quilt book last year, and over a third of you bought more than five.

The Man Ray Footprint, Elisabetta Gut

Except that many of those purchases were second hand, an aftermarket with no income for publishers or authors.

Kate Parzych

Only a few mentioned buying a new book in a quilt shop, the consumer/retailer standard ten to fifteen years ago. People don't buy books in quilt shops; quilt shops don't offer many books anymore.

Dorothy Yuki

Only a few of you mentioned buying a digital book or a book for a Kindle device, etc. I do sell a few digital books every year, but as everyone in the publishing industry has realized, digital books are not going to generate the same kind of sales paper books used to.

Oak by Julia McKenzie

The small statistics I present are just an echo of the larger world of publishing. That's why two of the major quilt book publishers are no longer publishing quilt books.

Kansas City Star
American Quilters Society

Mayan Calendar of Sorts by Llyzabeth

The publishers cannot change the trend. The authors can't either. Book buyers could but that is NOT going to happen.

Paper Dolls by Ginger Burrell

Commerce evolves all the time and the people who prosper take advantage of the trends. So there's no sense complaining---or trying to change the trends. 

Book Two by Mandy Pattullo

Although I do like to whine, "It's hard to live through times of change!"

Emily Dickinson by Libby Smith


  1. You found some nice art that gives books a 2nd life.

    Here's my perspective on book buying - for me to buy a book new without hesitation, I must give an inner squee of delight on at least 75% of it, whether it's a book of patterns or of eye candy. I have several of yours in that category. If between 50-75%, I think about it. Below 50%, it goes on my list of books to watch for used. It's the same for any sewing, needlework or cook book I'm considering. Also, I was away from sewing and quilting for about 15-20 years, so there were quite a few books that I missed out on when they came out, so yes, so some of those are on my used book list. My shelves are literally stuffed with books, so I am at the point of needing to be more selective about what I buy, new or used. I wonder how much the recent decluttering/tidying trend has had on book buying (or book keeping)?

    I wish there were not so many pages dedicated to basic techniques. Instructions on techniques particular to the patterns in the book are fine. For example, a book about quilts with curves in the blocks, hints on sewing curves nicely are fine, sewing the straight edges of blocks, not so much. Maybe it's my garment sewing background, but I'd rather have a book for the basics, and keep the pattern books for the particulars. Also, so many of the patterns in new books are old patterns, simply sized up/down, converted to paper piecing, or in new fabrics. And yet, I'm fairly sure that newer quilters love the basics included in every book.

    ebooks...I'm ambivalent about them. I like that they don't take up room on a shelf, but to sit down and look at one for inspiration? There's just something about sitting staring at a lighted screen that makes it seem like work. Maybe it's my age, having not gown up staring at a screen? If I'm looking for inspiration, it's so much easier to do an internet search on images. Or read blogs like yours or my other favorites.

    That said, there are several new books out this year that I've been looking for at books stores and quilt shops with no success so far. And unless I'm sorely disappointed when I do find them, I will probably buy them new.

  2. Love the altered book art! Interesting statistics. I should have been more specific when I replied to the question. I buy almost all my new books at my favorite quilt shop (Busy Thimble, Litchfield, ME). If she doesn't have it, she will order it for me. In fact, I may be the only person left in the free world who does not buy things on Amazon. I have purchased museum catalogs online, but anything Cyndi can get she will order for me. Such a treasure!

  3. I forgot to mention libraries - that's a no-go for me, at least now. Maybe when I retire, I can get there to use interlibrary loan. The last time I was there, they had a single 3 foot shelf for their entire collection of sewing/needlework, knitting/crochet, gardening and cookbooks. And it was only about half full. Between that and their hours, the library is not currently an option for me.

  4. I am so happy with your philosophy of letting things change. So many times people try us to guilt us for not buying more fabric, books, etc. Everything changes, and if we have run out of money, space, etc., or if we prefer to do things a cheaper or a way that works better for us, we shouldn't have to feel guilty about it. Love all these images you have presented with your survey results.

  5. Sadly, all you've mentioned is very true. There's one more side to the coin however, and that is for those of us who have taken classes, collected our stash and our books for years, really don't see very many new pattern ideas to entice us to buy. Personally, I've built up my bucket list with the books and magazines herein and am still working on it. The younger sewers, new moms with babies and small children, are embracing quilting in an entirely different fashion. They have zippy fabrics in color combinations I couldn't even attempt to try, jelly rolls, and Pinterest. I'm constantly amazed at their creativity and equally glad to see how much fun they're having. Ebb and flow, we can't change it, but we can still appreciate it.

  6. I'm writing to JustGail regarding her comment that her public library is a "no-go." Why wait for retirement to use ILL? She can log on to the library catalog from her home computer and request away! (Remember to check WorldCat for books not in the regional consortium.) Has JustGail spoken to the library director about the deficiencies in the collection? [All of you should be on a first-name basis with your library director!] If the director and the collection development manager are not quilters, cooks, or crafters then purchases will likely be only what the review literature covers (very little). Recommendations are welcome (and if the staff brush you off, protest (politely) -- they're there to serve you). Support the library by joining the Friends, volunteering, being a Trustee, and by advocating for library services. . . .

    As for book-buying, I'm trying to curb my acquisitions. Most quilt books nowadays have just one or two patterns that appeal to me and often I can figure out how to make the block or the quilt by looking at a single photograph.

  7. I don't buy digital quilt books or art books because I don't think it's a good medium for appreciating the beauty of things in the books. Love your altered books art.

  8. I have so many quilt books now I have to cull many out and take them to the Strand for resale.

    I've been studying quilts for over years and have most of the older quilt history books and state projects, your books, etc. And like a previous commenter, I know how to draw most patterns myself. My interest in books to purchase today is primarily for their discussions of history or photos of interesting older quilts. Those books have gotten fewer and fewer over the years as the market place in both fabrics and books has offered very little in that category and concentrated more on Modern patterns and books. I wish them great success, we need new movements and younger people in quilting for the craft to thrive and survive, but there is much less now in both categories that interests me.

  9. @Nann - those are good ideas. I knew before I read your Blogger profile that you are a librarian :-) I've never heard of WorldCat. Can you have ILL shipped delivered to your home? Are all libraries able to use them? I know of one person who was told "no, ILL says we aren't big enough to use it" and that was a library larger than ours. I will say that was ??years ago, perhaps things have changed since then, especially since so many libraries are fighting to stay open since internet in almost every home came about.

    Our very small rural library has short hours, minuscule budget, but *did* finally get a new building after years of fundraising. I looked at their website and almost all is "come in and......" so again, it seems I'm up against their hours. Hence the "when I retire" comment.

  10. As a reader who revels in two fantastic libraries in my town I feel a lot of sympathy for Just Gail.

  11. I love your quilt book stats treats. treats for the eyes and just love the witty humour to go along with it. love your posts, Barbara.

    Kim Marie in Brandon, Wi

  12. I live in a house full of books and I love to buy quilt books! But I buy less books, than in earlier years. I have more experience, a more distinctive taste and a large list of quilts I want to make from my books. On the other hand, quilting books are like cooking books: nice to read and to look at pictures! I am a board member of the Dutch Quiltguild and I am responsible for our library. We have more than 3000 quilt books, that we lend to our members. We send them the books by mail and they send the books back. I am the lucky one who has to buy 10 new books every 3 months! Thats 40 books a year. Just keep them coming!

  13. I've seen a lot of new quilt and how to quilt books still being published. I worked at Jo-fabric for a while, just lately in fact, I had to quit for a move,and saw lots of new quilt books coming through. I bought several there with my employee discount, yey for that.
    I see the trend is toward modern in regard to color and design, exciting to me.
    There's also interest in crazy quilt style/embroidery.
    I think it's important/a good idea that authors/publishers include basic instructions for the new quilters and for those of us needing a little refreshing. There's a lot of new quilters and rusty quilters out there, let's bring them in.
    I see change happening in the quilt book publishing industry for the good.