Chris Schwarz's Blog

More Answers to the Upcoming Changes

My mailbox is now filled with more than 150 messages about the merger of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine that we announced on the blog. I am trying to answer every message, but until I can, here are some answers to some of the common questions:

1. How will the content change? Will there be less emphasis on hand work? Less investigation of forgotten methods and tools?

Here’s how I see it: Each issue is going to have the same amount of staff-written content in it that is ripped right from the Woodworking Magazine playbook , a couple projects, a couple technique pieces, perhaps a review of a piece of necessary stuff (like screwdriver bits). A glossary (more on that later). This content isn’t going to vary from what has been in Woodworking Magazine — I couldn’t change that any more than I could grow another 6″.

Add to that the Popular Woodworking columnists: Adam Cherubini, George R. Walker, Bob Flexner. Then add to that two (maybe three) articles from outside authors that could be on any topic that gets the editors riled up. We’ve got articles coming from David Charlesworth on scraper planes, Chuck Bender on the William & Mary style, Brian Boggs, Jim Tolpin, Jameel Abraham and on and on.

Plus lots of stuff that is common to both magazines: Tricks of the Trade, an Editor’s Column, Letters, a back-page column (like Out of the Woodwork), and two pages of short reviews of new equipment.

Will we change the balance of hand-tool and power-tool content? All I can say to that is I’m going to keep editing this magazine like I edited the other two magazines. The interests of our staff and contributors take us down many paths. We write about the interesting trips.

What will you see less of? That’s a good question. In print, you are going to see fewer (if any) “tool shootouts.” Lots of magazines do this well. Personally, I think skills are more important than tools. So right now the plan is to do tool shootouts for the web site. I think that’s a better home for them anyway. When you want to buy a drill, where are you going to start doing research these days? The vast majority of woodworkers troll online for information.

2. Will the blogs change?

This blog is not changing (I do hope we can get a better blog platform, however). The PW Editor’s Blog will continue. We’re working on the Arts & Mysteries blog right now. Adam is on hiatus because his job has taken him where he doesn’t have a shop. We might look to you, the reader, to help us with that one.

We are planning to add a new blog: The Glossary Blog. I know you think I’m nuts, but I think it will be a great thing. More details on that soon.

3. What about this Twitter crap and social media junk?

I know, I know. Some of you don’t like the Twitter and Facebook stuff. It’s new. No one really knows how to use it so it’s universally helpful. This was the same situation five years ago when I started this blog. I got a lot of messages about how they hated having to check it. Why couldn’t we just put it all in the magazine? (Because I type too much, that’s why. There would be no trees left for woodworking.)

We need to explore these new media platforms. Will we mess up? Yup, you bet. Will we eventually figure it out? If we don’t, we’ll be hurting.

4. Will the online stuff become more important? And more expensive?

I can promise this: The magazine will always stand on its own. Every article will be a complete world. You won’t have to go online to buy something to build a project in the magazine. That’s just wrong.

But we do have lots of content online that you might never know about if we don’t tell you. Say you liked David Charlesworth’s article on scraper planes, well, we’ll be telling you that you can read David’s other meticulous sharpening articles on our web site.

Will we charge for our site? Eventually parts of our site are going to have to cost money. Otherwise I’m going to have to go back to editing newspapers (oh crap, those are gone!). We’ve always been fair about pricing — heck we haven’t raised the price of a new magazine subscription for 15 years.

Advertising isn’t going to pay for it , heck advertising has always been a small part of our overall budget. We’re not some doorstop like Glamour. And now advertising is even smaller. So be it.

I know there’s anxiety about this among some readers. Heck, we’re all anxious, too. But I’d like to simply say that more things are staying the same than are changing. Same people. Same commitment to the craft. Same tools in our hands.

Thank you for all your comments and suggestions. Believe me, we’re listening.

– Christopher Schwarz

24 thoughts on “More Answers to the Upcoming Changes

  1. Pete Bretzke

    Chiming in a little late on this one, but I look forward to the change. Believe me, I was extremely happy with the current format(s) and have let all my other subscriptions lapse because they just don’t offer the content Popular Woodworking and Woodworking bring to the table.

    There’s nothing wrong with changing a product if it truly makes it better. I am sure the editors would never compromise what they have built. To me the proof is in the pudding – both magazines have gotten better and better with each issue. Good luck, FW, but I doubt you really need it!

    As far as a forumn, I am on the same page as some of the other readers. There’s already enough forumns out there. My vote is to let Lumberjocks or others handle that aspect of the online experience.

    Lastly, I agree with Charles Frankenhoff’s comments regarding premium web content. When FWW introduced it’s premium web content as an extra charge (a steep one at that) I felt cheated, like I was only getting half of the magazine – the half with all the ads. I would be more than happy to pay for premium content, but only charge me once. Call it a ‘web-enhanced’ subscription or charge me for a one-time, life-time membership.

    This is a good move. Congratulations!

    Pete Bretzke

  2. Jonas Jensen

    Congratulations with the merger. I bet it’ll be good.
    If we are going to pay for the on-line access like FWW. COuld it be made so that people who subscribe to the written magazines get it for free or at least at a substantial discount?
    I very rarely visit the FWW homepage because I don’t like to be thrilled with some project then discovering that to read more than a page I’ll have to cough up. That’s the best about your page. I have even shown it to people at work who would otherwise never have studied a page like that.
    Brgds from freezing Denmark
    Jonas

  3. me.yahoo.com/a/iW1ZUdFypdN6QP5sQc6EBs75k3Qi7Q--

    Thank you Chris for your valuable and limited time to listen and answer questions anxious readers have. I don’t really have a question regarding the merger, I have, for years placed my faith in you guys to keep my interest of woodworking "charged". Just knowing the magazine’s context will not change by filling up with advertisments and useless Tiwanese hum drum comforts me knowing the staff, as they have been, will always be true to their loyal readers providing useful and long forgotten information we have come to expect from your work. Good luck and God Bless.

    Steve Hilton—–Prescott, AR

  4. Eric

    I am a subscriber to both magazines. I had originally stayed away from the 1st couple of issuse of WM because I thought it was "beyond" my abilities, but then found an article I was interested in (building the face before the carcass) and was hooked. Even though many of the articles really stretch my understanding/abilities, I find that it causes me to expand my understanding and ideas about woodworking.

    That said, I think the combined magazine could be great for this exact reason.

    As for the online content, I would not mind paying an additional fee for a subscription (like FWW), IF ALL of the content from the magazines are online, searchable and printable. I find that when I am considering a project or learning about a new technique, going to FWW and searching/reading/printing many articles by different authors helps me to understand the technique and gain different perspectives, rather then just getting what one person thinks is important.

    Thanks for the great magazines, and good luck with the new magazine. I am really looking forward to it.

    Eric

  5. Christopher Schwarz

    Hilmar,

    If you renewed for one year (seven issues) then you’ll get seven issues of the combined magazine. If you renewed for two years (14 issues) then you’ll receive 14 issues.

    Hope this helps,

  6. www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlKbY-XSyL3iA3FXc9_0UOmTM8bEvIiPcc

    Chris,

    Thank you for the update and for having always been great about warning people about changes to the magazine and the rational behind it. I know in my other comment in your recent post "Coming In April The New Popular Woodworking Magazine", I might have sounded abit harsh and nervous; my concerns aren’t removed; but I understand the publisher’s reasons more. I would happily have paid more for a subscription to WM as I find it better than any other magazine for encouraging me in woodworking and the style of writing is wonderful (ask my wife, she’s thinking of running for chairperson of "Wives Against Schwarz"), I often am heard laughing at your turn of phrase (in seeing my own verbal gymnastics therein).

    Cheers and Happy New Year to you and all the PWWM (there, I wrote it) staff in 2010. And may April being a pleasant surprise for me in the new PWWM edition showing up in my mailbox.

    Anthony

  7. Mark Maleski

    Since you are keeping the staff intact, I’m confident that the publication will retain its high standard of excellence. I’m excited by the potential for online content development, and am particularly hoping you’ll explore some distributed content development approaches. For example, wikis could provide a means for the readers to contribute content via an interactive, collaborative format. Also, perhaps there’s potential benefit to inviting some of the more prominent bloggers into the fold (could be value added if PWM provided collaborative services, guiding themes, etc). Of course those concepts would cost $, and the internet mindset is biased toward "free"…but if you’re willing to consider crazy ideas like a ‘glossary blog…’

  8. Mike D.

    I was truly upset when I read about the merger of the two magazines, WoodWorking Magazine is the only magazine I subscribe to. But the more I read the better i’m feeling about this!

    P.S. Since I only subscribe to WM will I recieve the first new merged magazine and if so when?

    Thanks!

  9. Christopher Schwarz

    Steve,

    You can *always* get a complete refund of your subscription, even for the issues you have received. That has been our policy from day one. Our customer service department can take care of anyone who feels this way.

    Chris

  10. Steve Fairbairn

    Will you be offering prorated cash refunds for Woodworking Magazine subscribers who do not wish to receive Popular Woodworking as a substitute for the balance of their Woodworking Magazine subscription?

  11. Brian Kerley

    @mvflaim

    I’d hate to see another forum open up just because it’s hard to check all these forums when there are a ton out there. The pop wood guys usually check up on the woodnet forums….though a certain french chef has also taken up residence there 😉

  12. mvflaim

    Chris,

    Any chance Pop Wood will be creating an online forum? There are a lot of disgruntled Knotheads out there.

  13. David Nordrum

    Is there any thought to doing an online subscription…like Fine Woodworking. Will be getting a subscription this year, but would really like to do an online one instead.

  14. Steve

    Hold on now boys and girls, the real question we should be asking ourselves is do the many chapters of "Wives Against Schwartz still have a place in this new development?

  15. Rob Millard

    Chris,

    Having the tool reviews on the web is an excellent approach, as they have a somewhat short shelf life, since tools, especially power tool, tend to change quickly.
    Will the new magazine have a mix of color and black and white photos? I really like the black and white photos in Woodworking.
    Rob Millard

  16. Ethan

    Great picture of Adam, Chris! By the size of the pile of shavings, he’s been working hard! Is that a drawring by our famed Sock Monkey artist, Katy?

    Interested to hear more about what you mean by, "We might look to you, the reader, to help us with that one. "

    I’m not terribly concerned about cost. The way I look at it, I have one less subscription I’m paying for now. And I’m the perfect candidate for those subscription renewal notices – I can never remember when I paid it last, so I tend to write out a check when I get one to make sure I don’t lose my subscription. I think I’m currently paid up until 2012 for PW and I do believe my WM label says WIN11 on it… So I suspect I’ll be good with PWM for some time to come.

  17. Bruce Jackson

    We’re ending WM with Issue #16, right? If so, any plans for a hardcover collection of all 16 issues (in one book)? I subscribe also to FWW and am irked that subscribers pay an additional $35 for the website "premier" features. Unlike other readers who dissed FWW, I find it useful for looking at styles other than Stickley-esque or Craftsman or other pre-WWI Arts & Crafts reproduction products (I do like Scandinavian modern and wish that BORG & Big Blue carry more than oak / poplar / "select" pine / cedar thicker than 3/4, something like 5/4, 6/4, or 8/4, sizes others may find useful for Greene & Greene, another style and its offshoots I like).

  18. ken-schnabel.myopenid.com

    I am sure the new combined magazines will be great. Different, but great. Woodworking Magazine was quickly becoming my favorite of the many woodworking magazines I subscribe to.

    One thing that always concerns me with all of the magazines adding online content is not being able to get to that content in the future. I go back to back issues of magazines to get information and plans all of the time. In the past all of this information was in the magazine. Will I be able to go to the extra information on the web 10 years from now? Will the links still work?

    One possible solution that I could think of would be to include all of the online extra content with the yearly electronic copy of the magazines. This would allow the person that wants an electronic archive of the information for future reference to have all of the information that was available at the time.

  19. John

    Chris,
    Thank you for this update, I feel a little better about the merger now. The change was inevitable as change is needed. I certainly wished it would stay forever but knew one day it would change.
    WM will be missed as it was more than a magazine. It was an idea, a philosophy, a woodworking lifestyle so to speak. It did something no one else has done and frankly never will. Devoid of advertising it was purely about the best way to work and not the selling of a product. It talked about the details that are missed else where and uncovered old methods of work. Where else would you find a Roubo bench in a sea of trestle benches?
    WM opened doors for me that never would have otherwise, for this I am very grateful. PWM will be a great magazine, but it will never be better, that is not possible, the philosophy and mindset are not there.

  20. Bob Easton

    While a subscriber to only one of the magazines, I often buy the other on the news-stand. Both are excellent, and you have yet to disappoint in the slightest. Your (yours personally Chris, as well as all of the staff of both mags) track record bodes very well for a fine merger. I look forward to the combination.

    Thanks for the Q&A, and all the best with the hard work ahead.

  21. ches spencer

    Chris,

    We all have to do more with less. If you can can grab some efficiency by combining, so much the better. I subscribe to both magazines because of the "Passion for Wood Working" demonstrated by yourself and excellent staff. I can’t wait for the New Issue and I will have more space on my book shelf to boot.

    Ches Spencer
    Nichols, NY.

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