19 Comments

I’ve got mixed feelings on this subject. I think it is pretty popular to attribute society’s ills to Amazon or big box stores, but I read a piece from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve that studied quite a few small counties across many data points and found evidence to the contrary. If someone comes up with a better way to sell products that allows them to do it at a more affordable price, that seems beneficial to me. Economies of scale benefit the consumer and it is the natural order of things as transportation, logistics, and technology have allowed for it.

That said, we support small and local businesses. It is upsetting from time to time though - we recently went to a newly opened local toy store that was literally charging $200 for a stuffed giraffe Amazon had for $29.99. Conversely, I think LAP has the right idea to succeed as a small business - and it starts and ends by making a product of amazing quality and utility.

Expand full comment

Edit: small business success definitely doesn’t end there.

Expand full comment

I once watched someone drive a beautiful new car straight into a concrete wall at high speed. Which is exactly what the owners did with F&W Media.

Expand full comment

Finally, other people who remember the original meaning of ‘cornhole.’

Every time I hear people talking about ‘playing cornhole,’ they talk about it in the context of ‘with their kids,’ or ‘at church,’ and I usually end up doing the old slapstick-style spit-spray of my drink into their face.

And I try to then explain. And they put on these utter BS innocent-look faces, as if I’m the psychopathic monster in the room...

Expand full comment

“Corn holed into oblivion “

“Asshole tax”

Most of us must be of similar age and chewed some of the some of the same midwestern/ shallow south dirt growing up.

The publishing business seem to worse than the music business.

The writer/ artist is the one getting cornholed in that mess.

Thanks for what you do

Expand full comment

You could just produce a few quick poster runs to make up for the money you lit on fire with F+W.

Expand full comment

i bought my copy of Workbenches from Barnes and Noble a few years back. the copy came with obvious printing errors throughout (think what your color printed pictures look like when the toner is low with lots of streaks throughout). i tried to return it and was told I'm a snarky tone that that was normal for books and they would not refund shipping cost. that was the last book i purchased from Barnes and Noble. ultimately i decided that the information in the book was worth the lighter fluid to the cash and kept it. another reason i (and a growing population) appreciate quality over the all mighty dollar. LAP has quality in spades. Keep it up.

Expand full comment

I have The Anarchist's Workbench with 20 more years of wisdom edited in. And The Workbench Book by Scott Landis. Why would I ever get the F&W workbench book nowadays?

Not doing business with a particular customer (like F&W) is infinite Asshole Tax. Every business should be able to fire bad customers.

Expand full comment

Another interesting post! LAP has big cojones. It’s awesome.

All I know is that I stumbled across that workbench book in the library, thankfully. I had been fretting and fussing on what type of workbench to build for a year. Maybe more. Nothing seemed right. But that library copy of your first workbench book led me to others that your wrote. And then, ultimately, to the Lost Art Press and the Anarchist’s Workbench. Wonderful books, and a great workbench that allows me to do about anything.

Expand full comment

Sounds like you’re better at this “Capitalism” thing than you are letting on...

Expand full comment

I have purchased a few of LAP’s titles from Lee Valley, but I don’t believe I have bought any from Amazon - at least not lately. I have a fairly large collection of your books and have actually read most them :D Your books are not inexpensive, but they are always instructive, often humorous and always well-crafted of the best materials. They are heirloom quality to me. I am getting older and will try to pass your books on to family and friends. I am grateful for the enrichment your books have brought to my life.

Expand full comment

I've seen LAP titles on Amazon a couple of times. They always list at a lot higher price than you can buy them direct, and they were still in print. I've always wondered if people actually buy them.

But hey. Free shipping.

Expand full comment
author

They do buy them. People have been trained to think that *everything* is on Amazon. And that Amazon always has the lowest price. Both are false.

One guy in Pennsylvania buys our books and then resells them on Amazon for $200 or more. I know he sells them because he's bought hundreds of LAP books.

Expand full comment

Holy crap. Barnum was right.

Expand full comment
Sep 17, 2023·edited Sep 17, 2023

Roll what some of these comments are talking about together and you get something called

"enshittification." Corey Doctorow coined the term I believe. The better example describing this is here, and it's a great read: https://pluralistic.net/2023/01/21/potemkin-ai/

Expand full comment

I watched the big box cornholing effect happen first-hand. When we bought our vet clinic in 2005 there were two stationers in town. Both were multi-generational family businesses (Walker's and Williams). They were both great to do business with. They'd personally deliver any order for free the next, or sometimes the same, day. If I'd walk into Williams to buy an eraser the owner would always say "Hi, Steve! How's the vet business?" even though I'm sure we weren't one of their bigger customers.

Then Staples came to town. They offered free UPS shipping if your order was big enough. Their selection was no better than the local places, who both had those giant generic catalogs with their name on the cover. They didn't even have to offer better prices, except for a few loss leaders. Just the perception of the discount big-box store was enough to drive people there. Walker's and Williams are both gone, along with another little piece of our local soul.

Expand full comment

There is also something called "Uniform Minimum Distributor Resale Pricing" which is much stronger than MAP, but has a set of rules that have to be followed stringently. It allows you to set the retail price for your product, but you cannot discuss it or negotiate it with the reseller and you must enforce it, as you did with your MAP example (but no "second chances" allowed).

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

I read somewhere that it’s algorithm based. Sellers have their prices auto-adjust based on the prices of other sellers. ( Same price, or add xxx amount, or xx percent...)

So when one makes an adjustment, the others’ prices are automatically shifted.

They’re not manually managing all of the prices.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Oh, I agree. And in some cases, it really seems like they’re just letting the algorithm do it’s thing. I can’t say if it works for them or not.

Doesn’t hurt to send them an email, though.

Expand full comment