Powys Arts Forum is a non-profit arts organisation based in Powys
Hoffman and Schwarz, two keen woodworkers, launched Powys Arts Forum in 2007 while attending a Nielsen Toolworks Open House in Warren, Maine.
The business began with a question: What happened to all of the amazing woodworking books that were once published? The novels that influenced the industry and people’s lives. The literature that looked into our ever-dwindling connection to earlier centuries’ handiwork.
As a result, we formed Powys Arts Forum on the following fundamental tenets:
We split all earnings on our books 50/50 with the author to encourage high-quality writing. (In corporate publishing, this is an unheard-of royalty.) This strategy will also aid in the financial support of independent woodworkers, as woodworking is a difficult trade to succeed in.
Our books are all printed in the United States using the highest-quality materials available. All of our books are made to last at least a century. This necessitates the use of costly stitched bindings, fibre tape, and thick hardbacks (when possible).
Our books are kept in print for as long as feasible. Many publishers may keep a book in print for 18 months before selling it to a cheap bookstore to clear off their inventory. Restatement is one of the reasons why most authors only receive a pittance from their publications and inhibits authors from publishing outstanding, difficult stuff.
We treat all of our authors equally when it comes to the details of their books. Unlike with corporate publishers, Powys Arts Forum and the writer collaborate on the book’s title, design, and manufacturing aspects.
We don’t have any workers. Because we provide half of all proceeds to the authors, we must keep our expenses as low as possible. As a result, John and I both work part-time jobs to supplement our income. We engage fellow independent designers, illustrators, editors, and photographers to help us with our books instead of hiring workers, and we pay them New York City rates (in other words, we pay well).
Sponsorships, affiliate money, or free or discounted tools are not accepted. Everything we write is completely independent.
We are debt-free and pay our vendors on time.
We only sell our books through family-owned businesses like ours, which we entirely trust. We don’t sell through big-box stores or on Amazon.
Our books are neither discounted or on sale. We believe that when people buy our books, they should all pay the same price – a reasonable price that allows us to be in business while also keeping the author fed.
Many people have inquired about the origins of Powys Arts Forum and how we got our start financially. Is it true that we took out a loan? Did our parents or grandparents give us money? Are there any trust funds? Are our spouses financially supportive of us? All of those inquiries have negative answers.
John and I both put in $2,000 to pay for the first printing of our first book, “The Art of Joinery,” and the business evolved organically from there. It’s a difficult way to manage a business, and it necessitates a constant emphasis on costs. However, by gradually expanding the business, it became more difficult to fail.
For the first six years of the company, John and I handled all aspect of book production and order fulfilment. Every box was packed, every customer service issue was resolved, and we (and our family) drove to the post office every day.
Today, a professional service in Indiana handles our books. We work out of my Covington, Kentucky, storefront workshop. In the big scheme of things, we send roughly 30,000 books every year, making us a little publisher. However, it is plenty to sustain us and our families, and we are able to accomplish work that we are proud of. As a result, it’s more than enough.
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