The Great Book Debate

Yesterday Cooperative Press posted a “State of the Press” message about some of the changes they are making to their printing processes. The gist of it is; the cost of printing books is rising, and in order to cut costs and keep printed books an option they’ve switched to a different printer with matte instead of gloss pages.

Cooperative Press is a small, but fabulous publishing company that puts out, in my opinion, some of the most innovative, interesting, and relevant books in the knitting industry. So far I only own one Cooperative Press book (in print) – The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design, and I subscribe to their digital magazine Knit Edge, and these have both been some of the most influential additions to my knitting library in the past year. Many more of their books are on my wish list.

The State of the Press announcement brought two things to mind for me:

1) It reminded me how much I want to buy some of their other books, particularly Extreme Double Knitting, California Revival Knits, Beyond Knit & Purl, and now the newly released Knit Accessories, and if I wasn’t dead-broke I would add them all to my cart RIGHT NOW.

2) It made me wonder what format I would buy them in…would I buy the print version, knowing it’s not only more expensive for me, but sounds like it’s also more expensive for Cooperative Press? Or would I go with just the digital version, despite the fact that I rarely read books digitally?

I know this argument will probably sound hilarious after I laid out my case for digitally managing my to-do lists, but when it comes to reading books I seem to much prefer them in physical form.

I say that I seem to prefer them that way because I’ve never really put that much thought into this preference. I know there are plenty out there who are very strong advocates on either side of the fence. Some people consider the feel of the paper, the act of turning the pages, the weight of the book in their hands, to be an integral part of the reading experience and would never dream of trading in their filled-to-the-brim bookshelves for a tablet full of their favorite novels. I personally could care less about the feel of the book, though I must say my hands do get tired after holding a book too long while reading in bed, but not prohibitively so. Then there are those who love the freedom of being able to toss a single device into their bag and have access to hundreds of books at the touch of a button wherever they go – no need to plan ahead, the tablet is typically lighter than a book (I’ve heard), and their love of reading doesn’t create a storage crisis. That all sounds nice, but I’m concerned about whether or not the things I actually want to read are available in digital form. Not to mention the fact that I am still too broke to own a tablet.

This doesn’t mean I don’t own eBooks though, I do. I have bought several eBooks, all of them about knitting, and there’s even that Knit Edge subscription I mentioned earlier. The problem is, with the exception of Knit Edge, I’ve never read any of them. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of paper books on my shelves that have never been read, there are plenty of those too, but the difference with those is that I can see them on a regular basis and am reminded of their existence. As soon as I downloaded those eBooks and stashed them in my eBooks folder on my computer, I sort of forgot they existed. In fact, there’s another book offered by Cooperative Press that I really want, Market Yourself, that I did not add to list above, because I had the sudden nagging feeling that I already have it in eBook form. In fact, now that my brain is on the subject, I’m not entirely certain California Revival Knits isn’t locked away in one of my back-up files too. I know it’s been in my cart before, I’m just not sure if I was able to pull the trigger. I won’t know for sure until I’m done sifting through the back-up files from my old computer and transferring them to my MacBook.

“Why don’t you just put a reminder on one of your fancy lists?” you may ask. Shut up, that’s not the point. The point is, when I sit down and start screwing around on the computer, my brain never jumps to “reading a book” as a logical thing to do. It just hasn’t been trained that way. “Reading a book” is an activity that my brain translates as something to be done with the TV off (it’s rarely off while I’m on the computer), and either sitting at a table or desk with a pad of paper and pencil at hand in study-mode, or lying in bed in attempting-to-slip-into-unconsciousness mode. NOT sitting in a recliner with a laptop on my lap half-watching “Monsters Inside Me” while in social-networking mode, or looking-for-inspiration mode, or photo-editing mode, or aimlessly-wandering-the-internet mode.

Now, if I had a tablet, then reading may be a natural thing to me when the tablet is in my hands and I would be far more likely to want eBooks. I don’t really know, I’ve never had one. I would like one, but I have no idea when that might happen. If I do get a tablet and it turns out I really like eBooks it would make me really sad to have spent a ton of money getting paper books when I could have been getting them digitally all along.

What are your thoughts on the paper vs. digital debate? Are you one of the people who has strong opinions one way or the other? Or maybe your opinions are more situational like mine seem to be? Either way I want to hear about it. At this point I’m kind of on the fence and I’d like to hop down to one side before I buy another book.


Knit Fit: Day One

Last weekend I trekked to Ballard, WA to attend the very first Knit Fit! This is the third knitting convention I’ve been to, the others being the Sock Summit in Portland, OR and Knit City in Vancouver, BC. Knit Fit seemed smaller than Knit City, but it was very cozy feeling. The main hall was filled with knitters and spinners, milling about the registration tables, winding yarn from swifts, chatting with friends, and partaking in delicious sandwiches offered by Wild Wheat Bakery.

I arrived a bit early for my first class, so I had some time to poke around the marketplace. It was the perfect size for me, not so large as to be overwhelming, but big enough so I felt like I could spend hours in there without getting the least bit bored.

Foreground is The Fiber Gallery booth, in the background is Goody Golly Miss Olli! and the hanks of handspun hanging on racks are from Spincycle Yarns.

I found some Chibi darning needles to replace some of those that were lost in Vancouver (now I can weave in the ends on all of those nearly finished projects that have been piling up!). Mostly I just enjoyed fondling all the pretty yarn and fiber the vendors had to offer.

The Textiles a Mano booth was very nicely decorated!

Pepperberry Knits also looked rather fetching with their hanging hanks of novelty yarns.

I even found the perfect skein to fill a color gap in a gradient project I was working on.

That’s Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Rogue (one of a kind color) bridging the gap between a medium toned teal and a very dark green in my Aranami Shawl.

I managed to wrest myself from the siren song of the marketplace just in time to make it to my first class, Self-Publishing Your Own Knitting Patterns taught by Lee Meredith.

Not just an excellent teacher, but a fabulous designer too. I mean, LOOK AT THAT SHAWL! Rav link here: Junction

I was blown away by this class! Lee managed to get through so much useful information in only 3 hours, I swear she must have bent the space-time continuum to make it work. The handout alone would have been worth the price of admission. It was a small class and we were able to ask Lee lots of questions about the many nuances involved in self publishing, from the more technical aspects of building a PDF file, to the types of experiences she had had using different platforms to sell and market her work. I came away from her class with pages and pages of notes. The process of self-publishing has been completely demystified for me now! I now have all of the information I felt like I was missing after reading The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design. It’s still a great book to start with, but it really only gives a general overview of what it’s like to be a designer. If you’re considering publishing your own knitting designs and ever have the opportunity to take Lee’s class DO IT! It’s like an expansion pack for the book! You know, the kind that adds all sorts of cool elements to the game that the developers really should have included in the first place…