I had fun at Schiffer’s Author Picnic! Because of a delayed flight, I only made it to half the seminars, but I did meet the Schiffer team, and got most of my numerous questions answered. And I got to meet Sandra, my editor! Here’s a picture of us:
I got to go on a tour of Schiffer’s warehouse and offices, and thought you might find it interesting.
Here’s the outside of Schiffer’s building, a large warehouse in rural Pennsylvania. I loved the sculptures scattered throughout the grounds and the smaller works of art decorating many of the offices – all from the collection of founders Peter and Nancy Schiffer. Here are one of the polar bears and a pair of elephants in front of the warehouse.
Schiffer is in Atglen, PA – population 1,402. It’s a rural area, about an hour from Philadephia and half an hour from Lancaster, Pennsylvania – the heart of Amish country. How rural? Ask the farmer next door:
And yes, it’s a working farm. Here’s the view from Schiffer’s patio. Cows!
I didn’t take many photos inside the offices, but here’s part of the library. The library contains a copy of each of the 5,600+ books currently available from Schiffer Publishing – it’s there for reference, and for their occasional visitor to browse. Heaven!
You’ve probably noticed the fabulous table in the library. It’s the creation of the current president (Pete Schiffer, the son of founders Peter and Nancy Schiffer), who makes them himself from slabs of tree trunks. Here’s another gorgeous table:
I was fascinated by this rack of trays. Every book in process at Schiffer gets a tray. The tray holds all the physical materials related to a book. I wonder where the tray for Master Your Craft is?
And here are some pictures of the HUGE warehouse. This was the section of the warehouse next to the picnic – the volleyball court was put up just for the picnic, but it gives you a sense of scale:
But wait! That’s not all. On the left side of the warehouse is a corridor to…more books!
And how big is that next section? Big. Big enough to dwarf a car inexplicably parked inside the warehouse:
Here’s a picture of just one of those book sections (this book is about collectible horses):
And here, along a smaller set of shelves, are the books that are waiting to be bought and shipped to individual mail-order customers:
I was delighted to find a familiar book there – Masters of Craft, by Paul J. Smith, director emeritus of the American Craft Council and of another major craft museum. It consists of photographs of master craftspeople – a wonderful book which has inspired me to look up many of the artisans.
After seeing Schiffer’s approach to publishing, marketing, and selling books, I’m very happy I decided to publish with Schiffer. Schiffer has a commitment to keeping books in print as long as they have copies. This is HUGE – most publishers will remainder “extra” books within a year or so of publication, rendering it out of print and unavailable. Schiffer is also willing to pursue small sales channels – the local gift store, or a museum shop, for example, in addition to the traditional bookstores and major distributors. They’ve developed relationships throughout each of the niches where they publish – which makes them potentially a better choice for craft books than a larger publisher, because they’re more focused. And they have a reputation for producing quality books, which is important to me. The only downside is that they don’t pay as well as larger publishers, but I’d rather have my book sold effectively and kept in print for years – what’s important to me is that the content is available, not a few extra dollars. (Not that anyone is getting rich from the publishing business, anyway!)
Well, my plane is about to land in San Francisco, so I’d better tie this blog post off here. I’m really looking forward to seeing Mike, Tigress, and the utterly-without-feline-dignity Fritz again!
Hi Tien, Love the comments from the visit to Schiffer. Can’t wait to see your book.
Louise Yale says
Thanks for the photos of the Schiffer Publishing Company headquarters and warehouse. I have purchased their books and wondered what they were all about. The farm next door and the cows in the field answer that question.
Thank you Tien. Looking forward to your book and more photos of Tigress and Fritz.
Tien Chiu says
You’re welcome! I found my trip fascinating and am glad you do, too.
Very interesting…not what I expected to see! I really like their books. They are usually very specialized and full of good info, and not a bunch of ho hum projects. The warehouse is pretty incredible!
Tien Chiu says
Yes, exactly. Their business started as a labor of love, and they are still more interested in producing quality books than in squeezing every last cent out, though (of course) they do pay attention to the bottom line, too.