The Challenge: Sales of Crochet Books.

Dear CLF members, we have a chicken and the egg scenario in front of us. We, the crochet public ask the question, “Why aren’t there as many crochet books as knitting books?” and the industry says, “Well, we publish them but they don’t sell as well, so we don’t want to publish them.”

How is this chicken and the egg? Well, first of all if they don’t publish them we can’t buy them, and if we don’t buy the books they won’t publish them. Nice cycle, eh?

So, I ask you the crocheting public, why don’t you buy the crochet books? I realise that times are hard, but times have been hard for a decade for many (regardless of what the talking heads have to say about it), and I know many of my cohorts are like myself and buy any crochet book they can get their hands on. So, BESIDES you can’t afford it, why else do you not buy books? Conversely, if you are like me and sitting there shaking your head thinking, ‘But I DO buy books”, do you have a hard time finding out about the books?

See I know I’ve had that problem, I have to scour the internet (and finally having the CLF is great because we talk shop all day every day and we find out about books, magazines, websites etc), in order to find out what new or old materials I’m lacking in my crochet library.

I have my own theories about why we may buy less books and I’ll write about those later. But, I want to ask you to tell me, what’s the deal? Why don’t you buy them (again not the can’t afford argument because that’s a no brainer)? Or if you want to but can’t find them, let me know too.

Leave your comments, because I want to see what people have to say. Again, I have my own theories on the subject and I will post about those in a few days.

40 responses to “The Challenge: Sales of Crochet Books.

  1. I buy crochet books almost compulsively, I prefer to look at them first to be sure there are patterns in them that I want to make. That said: I have trouble finding them at bookstores around town. Knitting typically has its own section. Crochet books are either mixed into the knitting books, making them hard to locate (who wants to dig through all those knitting books?), or are classified under “Misc needle craft”, making them equally difficult to find. Also, quantities are low and selection is poor. For example, I’ve been trying to find a copy of the new book “Crochet for Bears to Wear” and no one in the city has it. There are two Barnes & Noble, at least 4 Borders, two LYS, some local booksellers… In short, selection is poor and what they do have is hard to find, so that’s why I don’t buy more crochet books.

    • Kelley,

      Having worked at a Barnes and Noble before, you can order any book you want (granted that it is still in print) and have it shipped directly to the store for pick-up by the customer. They will hold the book for two weeks (minimum) to give you time to pick-up the book once it is in.

      An added plus with the Barnes & Noble system is that you are not obligated to purchase the book if you order it for in-store pick-up! You can order the book, look through it, and if the book isn’t what you want, the store will take care of it (either shelving the title or sending it back to the publisher) at no cost to you.

      Plus, having worked at a big chain bookstore, if corporate notices more requests for crochet books as orders, they will start physically stocking more on the shelves. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know?

  2. Oh, good lord, I have SO MANY frigging crochet books, that I don’t think I’ll get to using them all. And I still look for good crochet books when I’m in bookstores, and I have a lot of them on my amazon wish list.

  3. I do own quite a few crochet books, almost all bought online. My local bookshops stock a minimal and dated range. I find out about crochet books through Ravelry and crochet blogs, and Amazon is always handy in provided links to more. It does mean that I’m generally buying sight unseen, which I’m not all that happy about, so I tend to hold off on purchasing until I’ve read enough reviews and seen enough projects from the book in other places. (I’m in Australia, and that may affect my access to what are considered to be “specialty” publications).

  4. I’m new to crochet – only since November so I know there are plenty of books out there I don’t have yet but compared to other hobbies I’ve done it totally pales in comparison.

    My previous hobby (that I’ve stopped doing) was tole painting and you should see the books I have. At the height of the popularity all the book stores carried a large selection – Michaels carried the lower end books but they had racks of them. Compare this to the few books Michaels carries in crochet.

    The downside to this was that there was so much duplicates in the books – Everyone was putting out the same type of book. And it was all the easy stuff – it looked like the authors had just learned themselves. It got so bad that there was no point in looking through the because you already owned something very very similar. Exactly how many scarecrows or sunflowers did you need?!

    So to me there are fewer crochet books but they are of higher quality. Give it a few years and we’ll be getting the cranked out books too. Or maybe this won’t happen because it is far easier to just publish a pattern at a time through etsy or ravellry.

    I am a buyer of books. I haven’t bought an epattern yet because I know I probably won’t get around to making it and it would seem like a waste unless I was going to start it right away. I just put it in my wish list. But with a book you can sit down and read and reread and dream, never make anything from it but still be content with it. For example – I really wanted the 200 crochet blocks book so I poured myself a cup of tea and sat down with & … you know you have to compare prices and arrival times.

    I start with the book I want – read the reviews and follow all the links of … others bought these books at the same time etc.

    I ended up buying that book but also…
    crochet bouquet, crocheted wire jewelry, doris chan amazing crochet lace, beyond motifs and bead crochet jewelry.

    Sometimes I’ll go into chapters to waste time and impulse buy but they don’t have many crochet books there. I did get creepy cute at my last trip … even though I know it was cheaper online I still love to feel and see then buy immediately!

    Of all those books mentioned I’ve only made one granny square and started one project from Doris Chan’s book but they are out on my coffee table and they look fabulous!

    • Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and considerate commentary! I have to agree, I stopped buying crochet books for awhile about five years ago because I didn’t need one more single crochet scarf pattern, or a simple beret pattern. It’s what inspired me to write patterns 🙂 LOL And when I do buy pattern books I too buy them for dream material, inspiration, and often to add to my knowledge base.

      • I have to agree with both of you about the duplication in books available. I love to find really inspiring material to spark my imagination, and so much of what is available is just very basic stuff. I know this kind of books need to exist, but books like Crochet Inspiration by Sasha Kagan or Creative Crochet Lace by Myra Wood are too few and far between.

  5. I have to admit that I’m not a huge buyer of books. I prefer to purchase patterns as I need them. However, I have purchased a number of crochet books, usually focusing on theme or technique. I love books, but sometimes it can be hard to find them. I’ve gotten a number of books from online sources as a result. It would be great to seem more …

    • Hi Victoria,

      I have to say that the bulk of my books qualify for theme or technique. I love my stitch dictionaries, and pattern books with a theme or very very good schematics.

  6. This is something I want to know too.

    In fact I just went yesterday to purchase wholesale copies of 2 of my books from a publisher and found out one is totally discontinued and the other one is being discontinued…

    And I need copies because I am teaching classes where the books are part of the materials list!


    • Karen, that’s such a bummer! What I would like to know is what numbers are the publishers looking at for what continues being published and what is discontinued. You can not tell me that the zillion of knitting books out there all have fabulous print runs, it’s statistically impossible. But, if they are holding our books accountable to the successful knitting book numbers, when they do not advertise the books properly, and expect us to be psychic consumers, I think the publishers need a rethink. I know I buy books when I know about them.

  7. (Somewhat infrequent crocheter, so my views may not be typical.)

    When I don’t buy a book, it’s usually because either I don’t like the look of the finished items, or the projects look too time-consuming. Lots of recent crochet books feature items made of rather thick wool, which I find unappealing. The kinds of books I prefer have lots of small, delicate motifs and edgings which can be used to decorate a garment, rather than whole garments. Also I dislike books without diagrams of the pattern (except in cases where the pattern can’t be described with a diagram). So I usually prefer Japanese books which use lots of diagrams.

  8. Crocheters are more free spirited (my opinion) and do more creating of their own patterns, leaving them less inclined to buy books – and tend to pass down/along their favorite patterns. I’ve talked to crocheters who don’t read patterns – they just look at the picture and create the project. Add to that, many, if not most, knitting books are sold at the LYS, which, as we know, is not a huge resource for crocheters. That leaves the chains to sell crochet books, narrowing the market for publishers. But technique books are a different story – and tend to be around for much longer than pattern books.

    • Thank you so much for posting. I can say this as a crocheter who didn’t read patterns until 2004, that I did buy crochet books but only IF they had really good pictures so I could use those for my guide 😉 Sadly that meant I was usually doing thread work, not that thread work is the sad part, the sad part was that the other crocheting I wanted to do was often photographed in a way that made it almost impossible to copy from the photo!

      However I always purchased stitch dictionaries and magazines. As for the LYS, I maybe coming up with something to help with that situation (wink wink nod nod).

  9. Jo-anne (aka Blossy)

    I must admit that I only have two crochet pattern books in my collection but that is mainly due to the fact that I am only just learning to read patterns. Although I have been crocheting for a number of years now I could only make granny squares up until 12 months ago when I learnt to read my very first pattern. I do keep my eyes open for new books all the time but they are as rare as hens teeth.
    I live in Australia apart from one book I own which is Australian (UK terminology) the only books I have found are US patterns. Which for me is a little confusing as I am still learning all of the stitches & the international names that go with them.

    • Again, I think the Oz publishing industry needs to get on it! You guys have some brilliantly talented crocheters who are paid to come teach over here! I mean sheesh with that kind of talent you should have a thriving crochet book market!

  10. I _do_ buy crochet books but I have a hard time finding them. The bookstores are carry the same old “Stitch & Bitch Crochet”, the craft stores I go to has a very slow turnover in their books. And the yarn shops don’t carry much in the way of crochet books.
    I subscribe to all the crochet magazines I can (when led to getting burned by “Crochet Fantasy” but hey whatever).
    I find out about books from the internet, mostly. If a book gets a good word of mouth review and it’s something I think I’d be interested in, I’m there. By the time most crochet magazines come out with a review of a book, I generally have purchased it if I wanted it. Not because I’m rich, but I do squirrel away a little bit of money for my craft – ot should I say my calling.
    I really prefer to buy the books in the stores, but I just can’t find them. I like to look thru the book to see if I like any of the patterns, do I really think I will do any of the patterns and how it is written. If A.C. Moore or Michael’s sold more crochet books in their stores, I would be more likely to buy them. Because I generally can’t look at the book in person, I rely on Amazon reviews or friends recommendations.
    So my advice? get the books out where people can see them and buy them. Also, you could find a few crocheters (or more) to give the books to and do a review of them. That’s what the Amazon Vine Program does and it makes me want to read different books that what I would normally read.
    Sorry for going on and on, but you asked.

  11. Kristee Watson

    I am new in the last year to crocheting. I purchases Crocheting for Dummies so I could learn the basic stitches. I am definitely a book buyer (my Amazon wish list is stacked with books) but I currently live in the Congo and can’t buy yarn. So instead I drool over pictures of yarn and projects in blogs and websites. It would be great if there was a place I could go to see a list of good crochet books, tried and tested with reviews by the crochet community. It would help to to weed out the good, from the bad from the duplicated.

    • Hi Kristee, you can get thread though right? I know when I was in the Ivory Coast I could get thread to crochet with. And if really desperate, twine works, cut plastic bags work, cut fabric works as yarn, inventiveness that’s the wonderful thing about crochet!

  12. I do buy crochet books (even when I’m low on money), but only when I can justify it as adding something to my library. So no, I won’t buy any more “How to Crochet” books, which is what most shops (that have anything at all) have, unfortunately. (That being said, I always look through any beginnners’ books I haven’t seen before, in case they have even one really interesting pattern that might justify the purchase. They rarely do.) Which leaves me hearing about the books I really want on Ravelry, blogs and podcasts, and then having to buy them online.

    A couple of years ago, when I was running a school library (with crochet club), I did buy several beginner books, as well as stitch and motif dictionaries and a few more targeted pattern books (teen friendly, amigurumi, etc) from the library budget, and that’s probably when I stopped buying such for myself (because I had access to that whole collection 😉 ). Now that I’m no longer there I’d probably like one of the really good motif dictionaries (I have a stitch one) for myself, but haven’t got around to buying it yet.

    So the main reason I don’t buy more crochet books is that I don’t see books I want for impulse buys, and finances only allow me to order the ones I hear enough about to REALLY want.

  13. I do buy some books, but not everyone. I do buy pretty much every issue of Interweave and Crochet Today, because I like the portablility of magazines. Also, I have my MA in English Lit, and my husband is working on his Phd in English lit. This means that we have about 5-600 books in a one bedroom apartment, which means it has to be pretty darn special to be added to the chaos. Another thing, is that the library system here in Minneapolis has an amazing craft buyer, so there is a huge selection of crochet books at the library which is less than a mile from where I live. Thus I tend to get books out of the library, go through them really thoroughly, and figure out if I would make (in theory) at least 60% of what is in the book. It then goes on a list of books I want to buy, and I get to buy one a quarter (I know you don’t want money reasons, but again living off a phd stipend means some serious budgeting).

    • I, too, use the local library for some crochet books – if they have one I’m interested in, I’ll borrow it and copy a pattern or two. I have also asked the library to buy books, and sometimes they do. Sometimes, the book is so special, I have to buy it – like Dora Ohrenstein’s latest.

  14. I buy almost all my crochet books online from Amazon. LYSs around me have very few crochet books. The B&N near me has a small collection of new crochet books. I couldn’t find a crochet book (none) the last time I was in Borders. I buy books based on what I read on Rav, Amazon, Crochet Insider, Interweave Crochet. Once in a while, I’ll buy a crochet book I really want from a LYS – I bought Contemporary Crochet from my favorite LYS just because – trying to support the LYS.

    Funny story: Went to a LYS in Denver one Friday that I read good reviews about and spotted a stitch dictionary I wanted. It was the Harmony Guide, Vol 7, 220 More Crochet Stitches. They had three copies of it. No price on the book. I said I wanted to buy it and asked what the price was – owner went into back room, came back and said she didn’t know the price and the person who prices books wasn’t there today, could I come back next Monday (What!?!). That was a first – a store owner who doesn’t want to sell her wares. How does she stay in business??

  15. I only buy crochet books that are different and inspiring. I am tired of crochet books with the same ol’ stuff in them. And, honestly, when I stroll through my local bookstore that is mostly want I find in the crochet section. Perhaps, though, my beef should be with the bookstore buyers because they ultimately decide what to stock on the shelves.

    I am always looking for crochet books written from a new perspective and with contemporary looking patterns….I even like books featuring vintage patterns with a modern twist. These types of books are not always easy to find. I do love the magazine Interweave Crochet, btw.

    Another rule of mine is that the book has to have several patterns that have peaked my interest. I generally check crochet books out from the library first, unless its from one of favorite designers, and then make a purchase later after I have made a determination about its contents.

  16. I’ve only been part of the crochet public for a little over a year, but since learning, I’ve been buying crochet books as fast as they’re being published! If the shop doesn’t have them, I ask if they can order a book for me (if they have knitting books, they have access to crochet books from the same sources). I work part-time at a yarn shop and have noticed some interesting trends in the past few years and I’ll share what I’ve learned from my own experience.

    In general, a seasoned or long-time crocheter does not want to spend money on a book, and often doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on a pattern or yarn. And often (another generalization), that same crocheter will tend to limit 90-100% of their projects to a narrow category — i.e. afghans, thread crochet, baby items with very little crossover. Typically they’ve crocheted the same type of thing for years and don’t wish to do anything different. They know where they like to buy their yarn and accessories and feel a little lost in a LYS.

    But within the past few years, a new breed of crocheter has emerged – one who is willing to try just about anything – they read blogs, they’re on Ravelry, and they want to create something stylish and chic. BUT . . . local yarn shops might not have caught on to this hunger yet and are reluctant to order crochet books. Perhaps they’ve not sold well in the past. I simply started asking them to stock more crochet books! The best thing to happen for sales of crochet books, in my opinion, have been the blog tours for newly-published books like Crochet Adorned and Crochet Gifts. If there is enough buzz about these books and cute or well-photographed projects on Ravelry, there’s enough interest generated that people start to ask for them. And I remember that it wasn’t too long ago that cover photos on crochet magazines just weren’t all that appealing. On the other hand, Interweave Crochet magazine is top-notch in making crochet visually appealing — enough so that this knitter began to really have the desire to learn how to crochet.

    Maybe the question really is – are some crocheters more apt to want to create a knock=off based on looking at a finished item and reverse-engineering it without buying a pattern? Are some crocheters more apt to “share” patterns generously with other crocheters? Do they balk at supporting crochet designers by buying their books (but happily download all the free patterns they can find)? I’m hoping that’s not the case, but it’s definitely behavior that I’ve noticed in the past!

    At the shop where I work (half of us knit *and* crochet), I make sure that the crochet books get attention and that all the crochet samples are ones that others might find appealing — not just other crocheters, but people new to fiber crafts in general. And I think that’s the key — making something so desirable that people who don’t knit or crochet want to learn how to do whatever it is they’re looking at or touching.

    • Maybe the question really is – are some crocheters more apt to want to create a knock=off based on looking at a finished item and reverse-engineering it without buying a pattern? Are some crocheters more apt to “share” patterns generously with other crocheters? Do they balk at supporting crochet designers by buying their books (but happily download all the free patterns they can find)? I’m hoping that’s not the case, but it’s definitely behavior that I’ve noticed in the past!

      I actually take exception to those statements/questions. I know that seems to be the proffered wisdom. But hear me out, Ravelry is by far more populated by knitters than crocheters. There are just as many knock off artists, cheapskates, and cheap acrylic loving stick wielders if not more, than there are crocheters on that site alone which has several hundred thousand users.

      I think in general crochet has a history of being passed down without teacher or student knowing how to read patterns, and so photos and charts are more important to many crocheter, especially those who cannot read the patterns. If you look at vintage patterns they were written in “crochet” modern patterns are less so (though this seems to be changing.). Starting sometime in the mid-70’s the directions in crochet patterns began to change and be less clear and concise, and written more as a line by line pattern, which is counter intuitive when it comes to creating a crocheted anything, but especially garments. Line by line only really works for stitch pattern repeats and motifs.

      Yarn stores have only recently begun catering seriously, if at all, to the crochet public. I think it is fabulous that you work at a store that has crocheters on staff and materials and supplies.

      Oft times the reason crocheters only stick to one kind of project is that they have been told (wrongly) that you can’t do more with crochet than create afghans, wash cloths, or baby clothes. The truth is, we have a lot of of misinformation to over come.

      My answer to all of this bad information is find crochet patterns from circa 1930-49. Beautifully made, fitted garments in yarn (not just thread), often made by the designers of Silverscreen era Hollywood and Paris runways. If they could do it then, we can do it now. 🙂

      At the shop where I work (half of us knit *and* crochet), I make sure that the crochet books get attention and that all the crochet samples are ones that others might find appealing — not just other crocheters, but people new to fiber crafts in general. And I think that’s the key — making something so desirable that people who don’t knit or crochet want to learn how to do whatever it is they’re looking at or touching.

      This is so true, and I applaude your store for having ANY crocheted samples!! Where do you work, and can we get the store on the Crochet Friendly LYS list? 🙂

      • I was very careful to say that I was generalizing based on my own observations and experiences in my 5+ years in a part-time capacity at the yarn shop where I work. I do not profess to know the motivations of every crocheter or knitter — it’s just what I’ve observed and experienced. I’ve seen customers (both knitters and crocheters) get offended when offered a pattern suggestion from a book that costs anywhere from $17.95 – $29.95. As a customer myself, however, I realize that unless I buy the books, good designers might not be encouraged to keep creating.

        Look — I don’t make commission on what I sell — I do what I do because I love it! And I encourage your readers and all crocheters and knitters to ask the staff at their local yarn shops to carry or at least special order more of the books (stitch guides, books of crochet patterns, etc) they want. If you don’t ask, the staff and owners won’t know what you want! When crafters prefer to download free patterns or reverse-engineer the designs they love so much, book publishers won’t know that there’s a market for phenomenal crochet designs! Invest in your favorite designers by purchasing their books and their patterns.

        And thank you; I do work at a crochet-friendly shop — it’s Twisted Yarns in Spring, Texas – about 20 miles south of Houston. We’d be honored to be on the Crochet Friendly LYS list. In my opinion, if you proudly wear or share what you create, then others will find your enthusiasm infectious. My daughter’s a new crocheter and she’s not on Ravelry; she doesn’t read knitting or crochet blogs (except mine, occasionally). She learned how to crochet because she loved what I was making and has since made beautiful things of her own (of course, I’ve had to finance her habit). These new crocheters WILL buy books — or at least ask their moms to. 🙂

      • Janet, I know you didn’t mean it as a rub. My reasons for “excepting” to the statement was because there are people in our industry who will repeat that very line and use it as “gospel” and an excuse for not innovating.

        Whereas your wonderfully positive approach to “Show off our best!!” is the answer to many of our markets problems, which includes lack of books and materials.
        I urge any crocheter to seek out the patterns from the 1930’s-40’s and you will see beautifully drapey, non-thread (or thread if you prefer), fitted garments! It has always been done we just had crap for choice for the most part from about 1977-1993 pattern wise. Trust me, I have more than several closets full of vintage patterns taking up space in my house ;0) LOL

      • And oops . . . I’m obviously geographically-impaired. Twisted Yarns is 20 miles NORTH of Houston. 🙂

  17. I like to buy the books too, usually stitch or technique types anymore. BUt like other posters have said, they are hard to find in the bookstores. I’ll usually find them mixed with sewing, quilting, embroidery, and sometimes right next to knitting books. Also like other posters have said, I usually don’t hear about them unless its from blogs, friends or Ravelry. (I guess that means not much marketing is done for them? Hhmmm…)And they are usually the same ole, same ole. sigh…..

  18. Pingback: Market Watch: Crochet Book Sales « Official Blog of the Crochet Liberation Front

  19. I forget to mention in my other post that I just bought two crochet books the other day – Doris Chan’s latest on lace and Robyn C’s “Blueprint Crochet.” I’ve looked through both books twice, trying to decide what project will be next – you know, once I finish one of the several projects I have already started.

  20. I’m commenting late in this conversation, and my thoughts will echo much of what’s already been said. I see two trends from major needlework publishers that I think are a mistake.

    1) Teaching the basics over and over and over again. Too many crochet publications spend the first 6-10 pages of every book repeating “here’s how to work a sc”. If a book starts at that beginner level, it’s not likely to stretch far enough to show me something new.

    2) Writing out patterns stitch by stitch. Publishers approach patterns as recipes with no room for creativity and “are not responsible for errors or variations in individual work.” Written crochet patterns are impossibly cryptic to many people. I’ve heard so many great crocheters say, “I’m not very good. I can’t read patterns.” They’ve let publishers convince them that they’re not very good at their art because the publishers themselves are hung up on a single way to communicate an idea! Really, why would a stitcher keep coming back if a publisher feeds their insecurity instead of their creativity?

    I think there’s an untapped market for the intuitive crocheter who wants to choose a stitch pattern, a yarn or thread (or wire or whatever) and make something that matches the picture in his or her head. I suspect that independent publishers will fill that need before the big publishers do.

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