Communication – Economics of publishing

Communication 2010

The heart of my work will always be the physical book, but I’m loving the blogging (and tweeting) process. Starting with a high school journalism class, I’ve been trying to communicate what I see going on out in the world. I’m some kind of combination naif, Pollyanna, and communicator, and can’t wait to tell people what’s out there. I don’t need to tell you this is a golden age for communicators. As soon as I post this on my blog, it’s out worldwide — it’s staggering — especially for someone who started out in the world of hot lead type.

I’ve got revolutionary avenues and tools of communication available now: The WEB — hoo! And tools: big Mac Pro desktop honker in office, scanner, great Epson pro 4800 printer, plus Road Gear: MacBook Pro laptop, 3G iPad, iPhone, 4 different cameras, not to mention GPS in truck and satellite radio. An “…embarrassment of riches.” I better do something with all this!

Economics of publishing: 40 years of tightrope walking

For 4 decades it’s been nip and tuck. We sure ain’t in it for the money. In years past we had to borrow to pay printing bills. When Random House was our distributor, they handled reprints of our most popular books. They’d pay the printers and eventually deduct it from our quarterly check — 6 months after the bill was due. It was a great deal. When things got tight, they’d give us an advance on sales. When Random House got conglomerate-ized, we switched distribution to Publishers Group West, and it was a match made in heaven. As years went by, we got slightly ahead of printing bills. We even had a nest egg of about $130,000 3 years ago and bingo, bankruptcy by parent company Advanced Marketing Services wiped that out. Now we’re rolling with PGW again, but still tightrope walking. We need to sell enough books in the next 6 months to stay afloat, until we get the tiny houses book out there, which I suspect is going to be successful. Keeps us on our toes.

Foreign Editions

We’ve sold rights to the new edition of Stretching in Spain, Brazil, Korea, China (complex and simple Chinese), Viet Nam and have offers from Germany and interest from Japan. (Stretching is our flagship, the only reason we’re still afloat.; the new edition has sold 18,000 copies in the US and Canada in 5 months.)

SolFest back on

The event got so big it couldn’t be accommodated in Hopland, so it’s moved to the Ukiah fairgrounds, September 25-26 this year. My favorite fair. We have a booth and always sell tons of books. Info:

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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