What? Why?

Books

I have a presentation to prepare for a quilt industry seminar in March. My topic boils down to what makes a quilter buy a quilt book? Since Linda and I have been writing quilt books for 19 years you'd think I'd have a clue. I have some clues… but I am sure that you all know better what makes you buy a book than I do.

So I'm asking: 

  • What makes you look at one book over another?
  • What makes you part with your hard-earned money?
  • Do you prefer buying books in a shop or online? Why?

Feel free to answer any question – even ones I didn't ask.

You know what books I've been buying? Moleskines. Especially the 'passions' moleskines. In the recipe division. 


33 thoughts on “What? Why?

  1. The pictures catch my eye first. Then I browse through book and if there are several projects I want to do I’ll buy it. That’s why I buy all y’alls books, I like all your quilts. I buy from local quilt shops first and then on line if they don’t carry what I’m looking for.

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  2. I would rather see a book than buy it online unless the online has a option to look at the photos of the projects. I will only buy a book online without looking through it if it is by an author that I know always has something that I like.
    Catchy titles that describe the contents are good like your “A Slice of Christmas”.
    I have probably 500 quilt books in my Library. These days I like technique books with good photos. I guess what it comes down to is a book with good photos and good (pattern tested) directions is a must. Nothing irritates me more than to pay for a pattern that is so full of errors that I have to sit down with graph paper and do the math so that the blocks fit together.

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  3. I bought one of your quilt books because the quilt shop had a quilt made from your book and I just loved it! Usually I want to see something unique – a new technique, or new idea or something.

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  4. My goodness gracious… I do so love you all! I love to hear what you have to say. Keep it coming :-). (Sorry to resort to an emoticon, but I am smiling back at you.)
    Becky

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  5. I buy a book for a number of reasons:
    -I love the author, and know that I will want to read about how she put together the quilt blocks to make a fabulous quilt
    – I like 2 or more quilts in the book to justify the purchase of the book
    – I like the color themes used in the book (i.e vintage or modern)
    – I like the educational parts of the book (i.e. if it about the civil war quilts there may be photos or stories about the civil war quilts not just patterns)
    I usually buy my books in person so I can flip through them, but have also bought books online if I am familiar with the quilt designer.

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  6. I don’t usually make quilts from patterns. I like to design my own. That being said, I buy books that inspire me. Maybe there is a pattern that gives me a jumping off point. Or a color combination that speaks to me. I love technique books, idea books, inspirational quilt books – that way I can easily put my own spin on them.

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  7. Although I agree with the reasons others have given (technique, author I love, teacher I’ve taken a class with, something new I want to try), I think the biggest draw for me is COLOR. If I love the colors in the quilt on the cover, it is probably going to be mine. If I find more yummy colors and combinations on the inside, it is definitely going to be mine. And those colors might be the Japanese taupes so it’s not all about a particular color or being bright. I love actually having the book in my hands (and I do feel guilty about sometimes not searching for and buying something locally) but it is hard to argue with the prices and availability online.
    That said, Piece O’ Cake books are always beautiful! Thank you to you and Linda.

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  8. I mostly buy books for a technique that I want to learn, or a new way of doing something. I don’t really buy them for the patterns, but I do look for a pattern or two that I would like to make. However, I rarely do make the patterns, so would not buy a book just for the patterns.

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  9. Hmmm-why do I buy books.
    1. Is it a topic that appeals to me or that I am interested in such as applique, historical, etc. ?
    2. Is the cover well done and does it draw me in for a further examination of the book?
    3. Are the patterns appealing to me?
    4. And, is the book covering something new and different?
    (I will say that I usually enjoy your books as they are colorful, cover many different areas within appliqué, and you change your style somewhat each time.)

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  10. The cover photo/design will be the first thing that will prompt me to pick the book up and take a look.
    To buy the book, I will generally look for a new technique with great instructions and photographs. Patterns are not as important as the inspiration generated by the authors quilts – but having said that, a great pattern never hurts.
    The last quilt book i purchased (just a few weeks ago) was one that takes me out of my comfort zone. The patterns in the book will serve more as inspiration than as an actual – ‘ooh, I have to make it’ moment.
    Of course, now that I’ve taken your applique class last year in Bloominton, I think I can combine the techniques learned in your class with the those in this book and make something fabulous. Even if what’s been designed only in my mind never makes it to my design wall, it’s been fun and worth the purchase price of the book.

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  11. Many times I buy a book that a friend passes around our small quilt group. Esp. if she talks about why she likes that author.
    — If I buy 1 book from an author/quilt maker and it has lots of mistakes. I rarely buy from that author again.

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  12. I especially enjoy the ‘story’ behind the subject that is offered as an introduction to the design or technique. The decision to purchase the book often rests on the anticipation that I will learn something new. If only ‘bare bones’ instruction is offered in the book, I will pass on the book.
    Primary factor in deciding where to purchase the book depends on the need and timeliness of receiving the book; cost is secondary. I appreciate the immediate ‘look and see’ aspects that Amazon offers in showing the viewer a few pages of the content. Normally, I will not purchase a book without looking at the content. There are very few online sites that offer a preview of the book. Finding a specific book in a quilt shop is ‘hit or miss.’

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  13. I am really into books with good clear technique directions and photos. I often buy just because I love the author but if its someone new to me I really need to love at least 2 quilts in the book…and they are something I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
    If I see a book in a shop I buy it, always my first choice is to support my lqs but if I don’t see if I buy online fromt he author first if they have a shop and then Amazon.
    And I love book that have some patter about how and why the quilt was designed and why!

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  14. Are you sorry you asked? As a long time quilter, I am now very selective in what books I am willing to invest in and what magazines I subscribe to these days.
    1) The cover quilt and quality of color printing are key for initial attraction.
    2) I like thumbing through a book before I buy it, but I will often buy a book that has at least one quilt I would be interested in adapting or making. (I think I have almost all of the Piece o Cake books and patterns:-)
    3) If the quilter/designer is one of my favorites, I’ll order the next book before it’s even released to the general public, sight unseen.
    4) If I can draft the designs myself or if the quilts are easy basics, I’m not a bit interested. Ditto for books on techniques; I am well supplied with those already.
    5) Your DVD on applique is excellent, and I have given it as a gift to friends who want to learn applique. I think there must be room for more DVDs on technique or particular skills, but when I need to learn something new or remind myself of a technique, I have usually found pretty good YouTube demos online.

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  15. I have more than enough books, so I seldom look at the book displays. When I do buy a book, it is an impulse buy–usually because someone else made the quilt and I fell in love. I seldom buy books for the piecing patterns because I can draft my own. But applique can talk me into a purchase. And, of course, the quilt on the cover can say a lot. It needs to be gorgeous, unusual, and vibrant in color. Most books are bought at the quilt store, but if not available, I can get it faster from Amazon than from asking the store to order it.

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  16. Primarily, the book that grabs me is the one that will help clear a quilting roadblock. If I have fabrics I don’t know what to do with, or I feel stuck in the same-old rut of design, a book should help. There should be color photos of each project and even, preferably, pictures of quilts done in alternative color schemes. Lately I’ve been buying a lot of books that focus on working with precuts because I find them irresistible but get them home and don’t know what to do with them so that the finished product doesn’t look like it came from precuts! I would be drawn to books that introduce new timesaving techniques, that offer alternatives to traditional methods, that have clear tutorials to new topics to me like three-dimensional quilts or quilt-as-you-go methods. Right now I could use a book that focuses on what to do with fat eighth bundles, but haven’t found one yet. Books with easy-to-use templates, especially those with a pull-out, are great.
    I agree that there has to be more than one project in the book that I’d use before I’ll buy the book. I’ve gotten books from the library but take them back without feeling any wish to keep them. I need to be able to flip through an entire book before I buy it, so if they can do that online (like Amazon), I’ll buy it there. I rarely buy books at quilt stores unless needed for a class but will buy them at quilt shows from stores who are vendors there. I’ve seen quilting books available for Kindle and although I love my Kindle would NEVER think about buying a quilt book for it. Oh, also, the binding of the quilt book helps – a spiral bound book is much easier to keep laying flat when working with a pattern than a traditional glue-bound book.

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  17. What I won’t buy is a book that is black and white inside. Even though I pick out my own fabrics when making a quilt I just can’t stand a book that has no color inside. That aside, I will buy a book if I see only one thing that I think I want to make. I like unusual quilts and styles. I also read the instructions. If they are clear and easy to follow that helps.

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  18. I like to buy books with lots of full color pretty pictures. I want at least some of the pictures to be close enough that I can see the detail of the fabric….so I can tell if the fabric is a tone on tone print or a solid or a subtle woven stripe. Although I do not usually exactly copy a quilt out of a book I enjoy being able to see how a pro has used a fabric that is in my stash. My pet peeve are books that do not give a full page (or almost full page) picture of each quilt. I don’t want just a picture of the quilt thrown over a chair or draped on a fence. I like to see the full design. Other than that it needs to have enough patterns that I like and think I might make to justify the cost of the book. I do buy a lot of books online now because the cost is so much lower. Although I can sometimes see a difference in the printing/paper and binding quality.

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  19. If the book comes recommended by another quilter I may just order online. Usually will buy a book if it has at least 2 patterns I would like to make. I am also working on being a quilt appraiser so I buy almost anything that references antique quilts or their makers. I am a 4th generation quilter. My great and grand mothers just made what they knew, nine patch and lemoyne star. My mom has never bought a book as she is a hand quilter of white on white quilts but never got the piecing bug. I have made up for all of them and probably have 200 books. Love your blog.

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  20. There are a few reasons that I will buy a book:
    1) I know and like the author’s other work
    2) It is a book for modern quilters
    3) I’ve read about it in a magazine or on a blog and it sounded like I would like it.
    I buy 100% of my books online because they are so much cheaper. I may look at a book in person (in the library or in a shop) but I will then go home and order it online to save money. Books are cheap enough that it’s not a huge loss if I order a book I didn’t look at before hand and end up not liking it (though that almost never happens.) I figure I can always give it away or trade it or that I might find a use for it in the future.

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  21. I buy most of my books because I “know” the author and her work. I also buy books that the quilts are not only made from a certain fabric line, so that makes the book timeless.. since in a couple years you can’t get the fabric shown… I buy both online and in the shop.. love getting a bargain….

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  22. I buy books from the quilt stores rather than online because you can’t really look the book over on the net.
    If the book has just one design that I like, I’ll buy it.
    If one of my girlfriends has a great quilt book and is raving about it, I’ll buy it.
    If I’m standing at the checkout counter and someone is commenting on what a great book they have and why, I’ll buy it. Most of the time, it’s the buyer at a shop who sells the product. Quilters tend to believe other quilters.

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  23. I buy books based on the quilts pictured in the book, IF they are either bed size or have directions for increasing the size. I am disappointed that so many of the books out now have only lap size quilts, and no instructions or suggestions for increasing the size—as if no one makes quilts to be used for anthing other than a nap or wall hanging. Look for concise and clear instructions.
    If half of the book is full of “how to” bind/choose fabrics, etc., even if I like the quilts pictured, I am less likely to purchase it—not a good deal for my money. I already know how to do that so why should I pay for instructions that are repeated in every other quilt book.
    Also like books that use modern techniques. For instance, love Kaffe quilts—but I am turned off sometimes at the prospect of tracing and cutting out templates. It would be nice if he added rulers or rotary cutting instructions.
    I purchase books where ever I find them. Will usually buy on-line though if I have a specific title I am looking for, especially if I can get it a bit cheaper.

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  24. Color grabs me first, then designs. Plus, I like to see suggestions of various ways/projects to use the blocks besides the big quilt, like a table runner, small wall hanging, pincushion, etc. I also study fabric choices. Yours are my favorite books, and my collection includes more of your books than any other designers. Why? Great combo of color and design. I ALWAYS refer to your and Linda’s quilts as THE HAPPY QUILTS. Cannot look at them without smiling and wanting to make every single one. Too much fun!

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  25. I started quilting about a year ago. My first books were the basics…the “how to’s” (pick fabric, cut fabric, stitch, check for a 1/4″ seam, etc), and anything that really drew my eye. I’m now a bit more “picky”. Some of my criteria:
    1. If the cover doesn’t draw me in…then it’s not coming home with me; it’s probably not even getting picked up off the shelf.
    2. If I can’t actually flip through the book, it’s not happening. I buy at the store only (preferably LQS, but book stores as well). I have a NOOK and won’t even consider buying a quilt book electronically.
    3. It all depends on what is being sold…I picked up a book the other day that had the most fabulous cover, I had drooled over what little I could see of it online…and as soon as I opened it up, big disappointment. Beautiful quilt on the cover, but inside all i could find were patterns for placemats, bags, mini-sewing projects, etc. I think I found 1 maybe 2 actual quilt patterns, and that wasn’t enough for me to part with my cash. The ratio of quilts to placemats (you get the idea) needs to be balanced!
    4. I talk to the folks at my LQS. I let them know what I’m looking for, and they usually send me in the right direction. Recommendations from another quilter is the #1 way to get me to at least look at a book!

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  26. what prompts me to buy a book is the value, meaning are there enough patterns/ideas to make it worth the money…that’s first. occasionally i just buy a book because of the content, meaning it doesn’t have to have patterns or such, like a coffee table quilt book to read or look at

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  27. My post will probably echo some of a lot of the posts I’ve read here.
    First of all, I have some favorite designers – Piece ‘O Cake (I know that surprises you – hee, hee) Art to Heart and Possibilities to name a few. I generally buy all their books and I don’t have to see them first.
    For other books, I need to find at least two patterns that I think I’d like to do. What first draws me to the book is, of course, the cover. If the cover is boring, I won’t even look.
    The only place I shop on line for books is Connecting Threads because you can see some of the inside photos and decide if there’s something you’d like – and generally they are discounted which helps a lot in this economy. But, I also buy books at Quilt Shops if I just can’t wait – or if they come with a discounted class (because you got the book there) or I know I’ll never see that author on Connecting Threads.
    I now have somewhere in the area of 300 books – so I don’t buy books that have the basic patterns but just with new colors. I can figure that out by myself.

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  28. The cover has to grab my attention. If the cover doesn’t appeal to me, I usually find that the content is also unappealing.
    I will often buy books for a specific purpose. My latest purchase was a book of very contemporary designs, which I bought because it contains a pattern of a quilt which I am now making for my daughter.
    There is nothing like a super color combination to attract the eye, but I try to look beyond the author’s color scheme. I am looking for blocks or overall designs that I can make in my own color choices, and designs that can be easily enlarged to bed size. I look at the geometric aspect of the pattern as well as the color palette. I have purchased books that use color schemes that I don’t like, but contain patterns that I want to make.
    Some things I like to find in a book: lots of step-by-step photos; photos of one quilt done in two or more color options; the author’s favorite tools and notions with links to online sources for purchasing those supplies; suggestions for quilting designs for the top with close-up illustrations of the actual quilting; books with DVD included.
    I buy at quilt shops and online. I prefer online because of discounted pricing.

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  29. I agree, I’d rather see a book than buy it online. Though recently I purchased a quilting book online through amazon because it was substantially cheaper. But I had already looked through it at my local quilt shop. Usually color catches my eye first. I am also drawn to books with a more modern quilting feel. I also like when books have projects for all levels- beginner projects + more advanced. I also like when books discuss some of the history behind a block, though you do see that in the more traditional quilt books.
    I recently passed up a book that had great colors, discussed using up scraps, but only had a handful of projects and didn’t seem worth the expense. I also passed up another book of modern blocks because many seemed like something I could figure out myself and repeated blocks. But honestly, most of my quilting books don’t always just have quilting projects in them.

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  30. Lots of detailed pictures. When I can actually see the weave of the fabric and the strands of the thread I get very excited. I also enjoy a lot of written detail as far as techniques (especially hand applique – The New Applique Sampler is a great example) and also love to learn about a quilter’s philosophy of craft. I enjoy reading about quilting as much as looking at pictures and diagrams as much as actually quilting. Books have played a large part in my personal education and I’ve loved having them in my library to refer to. The ones that I turn to the most are the ones with the most detail.

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  31. With almost 500 books in my quilting library, a new book has to have great appeal before I’ll buy it. I buy quilting books to learn a new technique and to see new designs, although I rarely use the patterns. I don’t buy books with quilts made from pre-cuts because I have a huge stash and would rather select my own fabrics to make my quilts. I also like quilting books containing accurate historical information.
    I’d rather buy books at a discount if I can, so I seek older ones out at book sales, in used bookstores, and thrift shops and I also use coupons to buy new books when I can.

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