Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some thoughts on OOP charts

Wow, mention OOP charts and we all run straight to our keyboards and start typing! 

First of all, I think that we all understand that whether we would (or wouldn’t) pay big bucks for an OOP chart is completely personal.  People pay what they choose to pay for something.   We all have things that we love and sometimes the price tag doesn’t matter. 

For instance, my husband loves cars.  He especially loves 60’s and 70’s Muscle Cars that sit in the garage 350 days of the year and are lovingly washed, waxed, dusted and put away every time they’ve been driven.  A car with a 1960 sticker price of $5,000 can sell for $50,000 today, and believe me….Dave would be willing to pay that.   I stare in wonderment, but I understand it.  So paying $76 for a chart?  It doesn’t fly for me, but if it makes someone else happy, that’s fine.  (Although in Lee’s Perfect World, you wouldn’t be bidding against me….)

But anyway, you all have brought up some good examples and good points in your comments.  One issue that KarenV, Siobhan and others raised is that although charts can go out of print, you might think that the designer or design company or copyright holder would consider re-releasing the chart in .pdf format and reap some of the financial rewards when their older work has a surge in popularity.    After all, these designs are documents.   And in today’s world of digital documents and laser printers, a designer doesn’t necessarily have to go to a printing company and incur the expense of printing older charts (which may or may not sell).  But a pdf?  I’ll bet we’d still pay the going price for it.  If the charts you sell today are $12 instead $4 (1980’s prices), I’d gladly pay today’s price for just the 1980’s .pdf. 

To a non-designing stitcher like me, it seems so simple.  It’s not like anything needs to be manufactured.  There are no assembly lines to re-tool.  There are no broken molds.  Like I just said – these are documents.  It seems like everybody would win.  Designers could sell more designs and get to keep more of their money.  Stitchers would be able to buy what they like. 

So it must be more complicated than that.  Here’s something I wonder about:  Do designers actually want their designs to go out of print and then become scarce and very expensive (even when they’re used and secondhand)?  Because then we, as consumers, have a different mindset about our current purchases.  We are more likely to buy something new from that designer right now, whether or not we have the time or materials to stitch it because we fear that later on it may not be available.  We succumb to impulse purchases.  Hey gang, I’ve done it myself.  “Better buy it now,”  I’ve told myself.  So maybe going out of print actually works for designers.  We look at their designs as precious.  Maybe not as an investment (although given the state of my investment portfolio, it might not be such a bad idea), but as something to get while the getting’s good.  Maybe designers have discovered that sales of their old designs will step on sales of their new designs.  I really do wonder. 

Ah well.  The topic of OOP charts will come up again, that’s for sure.  For many of us, blogs are probably our greatest sources of our stitching inspiration these days, and sure as GAST makes Green Apple thread, some stitcher on some blog will post a picture of something stitched from an older chart book and we’ll all go nuts over it, only to discover that it’s out of print.  We’ll wonder why the heck we never bought that back in “199whatever” and then we’ll be trolling ebay and getting sweaty palms as the auctions come close to ending.

It also makes me wonder about our power to move the market as stitching bloggers.  I really don’t think that these OOP charts would be so expensive on ebay without our blogs and our photos, because otherwise, who would even know about them?

Long ago when I stitched models for a shop in Pittsburgh, the owner told me that it was the shop models that sold the charts.  And aren’t our stitching blogs like the world’s biggest collection of shop models?  Our WIP photos and interpretations of designs and then the creative finishes we come up with are the best PR that a design company could ask for, in my opinion.  The only thing we can’t control is whether the designs are made available to us or not.  Well, unless you happen to have a spare wad of cash laying around the house. Or until the design passes into Public Domain.  (Don’t click on that link, unless you want to feel depressed.)

And now I’m going to go check on that auction.  Where I’m certain to have been outbid.  So I’m going to be happy with what I have and stop whining about what I don’t have!


  1. You raised some interesting points re; OOP charts Lee, i suppose this topic could run forever!

    Good luck with the bidding ;-)

  2. I must say I truely enjoyed reading your essay, er...analysis, this morning. As Maggie stated, you brought up very interesting points. As I read, I found myself thinking, yea...hey,, she's right! Thanks for the morning introspection. But, for some reason, I feel the urge to visit ebay...what is wrong with me?

  3. This was interesting reading on a Saturday morning! Another point of the high prices of OOP charts is that some stitchers actually do collect charts from a certain designer rather than stitch them. And, we all know that collectors will pay the price for something in mint condition that is hard to find. This was such a good topic to bring up!

  4. Wow! I never thought so much about this subject before.

  5. I guess this means that some people out there are buying up Carriage House Samplings charts knowing that they will be worth money in a few years.

    As for the PDF idea. It seems simple. But how you do stop people from just handing out that PDF after they purchase it? I'm not sure how the people who sell this way, control it.

  6. Very interesting post Lee. One thought I had about designers and .pdfs is that it would probably be dependent on how technologically savvy the designer/their family members are, as to whether they would consider doing this in the first place. Some designers would probably consider it too much of a hassle maybe...

    Also, Donna raises a valid point about copyright and the possibility of people just forwarding the .pdf to all and sundry - I'm not sure if there are ways of preventing this in the .pdf file itself. However, many designers, particularly in the primitive end of the market (Stacy Nash etc) allow .pdf files already and I think there has to be a certain amount of trust (as there is with regular charts re: photocopying, etc), otherwise no one would ever release anything ;)

    I think you also raise a very interesting point about designers deliberately letting some designs go out of print, so as to create more interest for their current designs, especially when you consider the number of LE designs that have been available over the past few years. I admit to being quite complacent about chart buying, thinking that I will be able to buy things at any time, but the recent spate of designers retiring (CHS, Brightneedle, etc) is certainly starting to change my outlook on that one.

  7. Hi Lee,

    Just catching up on reading your blog. Thanks for talking about the OOP charts. There is something to be said for the OOP fever that gets created and which may boost the popularity of the designer (if not retired).

    I've seen some of the prices too on ebay and some are just insane. But what gets me is that some sellers actually say that a chart is OOP when in fact it's not!

    Anyway, I think it's the 'squirrely' nature that we have to make sure we have stock piled for all eventualities! "Nuts" is right!

  8. I would love to know the reason why designers don't release charts when there is interest in them again. We need a designer's feedback. I can maybe understand when they have retired from designing not wanting to pursue it, but designers still in the business must have good reasons. Maybe it's all the psychological stuff about OOP charts that makes it all so enticing.

    I used to be an auction junkie and at one time even thought I could make a living buying and selling (when I was not working outside of the home). It got silly and I was paying too much for stuff that now I have to get rid of. So now I use extreme care when making purchases. It's fun to watch and to bid occasionally but I rarely bid high enough to win an OOP chart. After all, the charts I already own and may or may not get around to stitching will someday be OOP.

  9. Many great points and thoughts to ponder! I know I was hoping to have many years to acquire all of the Carriage House patterns that I'd like and can't afford to buy all at once. Now I have to pick a few that I know I really, really want to stitch and get them before time runs out!

  10. One of the things that might--and I'm just throwing this out there, thinking off the top of my head--give designers a reason to not do the pdf file thing is because their selling via pdf cuts out the shops. We need to support the shops if we want the industry to stay afloat. ?! I don't know. I fell in love with Mary Garry's charts AFTER she had stopped designing but have only won one of her charts on Ebay because she's so popular with European stitchers. It's a shame that the designer can't reap the financial rewards of the sale of her designs... but maybe the designers feel they've moved on once they've retired.

  11. Very interesting points about OOP charts. I had never thought about the point that designers might love to not re-release their older charts in order to get more attention for their new releases.
    I love pdf charts and whenever I have the choice I buy a pattern as pdf file although I love real paper charts so much more. But with pdf files I avoid all the problems I always have with customs when I order from the US. The fact that most designers don't offer pdf files of their designs helps me a lot to not buy too much new stash, lol.

  12. It's a very thought provoking post. I enjoyed reading all the comments.

  13. Just another thought - who owns the copyright to the charts? Sometimes it's not the designer, but the publisher.

    Oh, and designers may not be thinking about repurposing their old charts because their primary focus is on designing new ones.

  14. I don't know why they aren't reprinted. The designers make no money from the eBay sales (or other secondhand sales) of OOP charts. The money goes to the owner of the chart.

  15. A 'thought provoking' post Lee with a lot of interesting comments!

    Exorbitant prices for OOP charts makes a lot of these charts unavailable to the average stitcher so I fully agree that an OOP chart could be sold as a pdf at today's prices, to bring these designs to the not so well-off. It does seem strange that with today's technology that designers are unable to offer this service. I like pdf charts - you only have to print out the actual chart thus saving on paper and ink (I'm all for saving trees) and the charts can remain in folders on our systems (backed up of course) or burned off onto cds thus saving on storage space. I am sure you, like me and thousands of others, have drawers, folders, boxes etc of charts which, at the time of purchase, you just 'had to have' and now lay forgotten. I have been guilty in the past of paying that extra for a chart that I just had to have and probably haven't even stitched. My designs are only sold as pdf files although I have had enquiries from stores wishing to stock them as some of their customers do not use computers/internet. I can keep costs down by not having printing or mailing costs so pdf charts are the perfect choice for me.