PDF Knitting Pattern Downloads: To Go, or Not to Go

One of the things I have seriously given some thought to lately is pdf pattern downloads. I am leaning towards the belief that knitters already fall into two camps: those that want it now and will only purchase a pdf pattern or print one for free off the Internet, and those that prefer a regularly produced pattern.

My distributor is wondering if they will go the way of the E-book. I don’t think so myself, because for the knitter it isn’t any different, quality wise, than working from a photocopy.  The knitter who really relishes having their pattern on nice paper and saves their patterns as a collector will always want that nice hard copy.

The big question for me is how does electronic distribution impact my distributor and the stores that carry my patterns? I am of the mind that they won’t impact each other all that much, as electronic patterns can be had all over the internet and knitters already fall into their groups of which they prefer. But it can be a challenge in a changing market, and new technologies can present unforeseen challenges to the “food chain”, as it were.

While it is true I need to tend to my business and let others tend to theirs (it is not my job to sort out change for them), I do need to be cognizant of how it can impact their business, particularly as I wholesale only. I don’t sell retail myself. Therein lies the rub. If I was a retailer myself, I could choose how many methods of distribution I want without competing, because there would be no one I would be competing with.

One reason I went with a distributor was so that I would have wider visibility with my pattern leaflets, and therefore more volume. I also would not be working on lots of little orders.

I discussed it with my distributor at TNNA, and I am frankly divided. Right now I don’t have enough pattern leaflets to have to “retire” any of them.  As I add new patterns to the line this year, that may be a consideration. When I no longer carry them in print, that they would go to pdf download.

As they are all rather classic in nature, I don’t really have any that don’t sell anymore, however to keep the line fresh I suppose I could go with a certain length of time and then have it go to pdf download.

I will have to think on it some more, obviously.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace


3 Responses to “PDF Knitting Pattern Downloads: To Go, or Not to Go”

  1. Lynda in Oregon Says:

    You mused that: “Right now I don’t have enough pattern leaflets to have to “retire” any of them. As I add new patterns to the line this year, that may be a consideration. When I no longer carry them in print, that they would go to pdf download.”

    That sounds like a perfect compromise to me.

    I’ve been following your copyright discussions as well, and this seems to all be part of the same skein (pun intended). If the same pattern is available by pdf or by snail-mail for the same price, I would probably go pdf, just for the instant gratification. But if the patterns themselves were different, other considerations would come into play.

    Beautifully produced hardcopy patterns are very important to some knitters; others just want to grab some yarn and start knitting — tonight! And as long as you (or any designer) wants to and can keep material in print, there will be a market for them. But when, for whatever reason, a pattern has to go out of print (in hardcopy format), it would be great to have it available in pdf format.

    One other benefit of pdf format seems to be that the designer is not restrained by the reality of printing costs. Girl from Auntie’s “Eris” pattern runs 40 pages in download! But it has a zillion charts and multiple options. I can’t remember what I paid for it — seven or eight bucks seems about right — but I suspect if she’d had it commercially printed, she would have had to charge twice that for it.

    On a personal note, I’m closing in on “Spider Monkey” with just the sleeve caps and final assembly to go. Will post photos on Ravelry. What an odyssey that has been!

  2. jolenetreace Says:

    Wow, 40 pages. That is a huge amount, I can only guess how much work that was! Give me a heads up when you post your sweater on Ravelry, as I would love to see it.

  3. lea-ann Says:

    Stocking is always a difficult decision for the LYS owner, Jolene . . . . I have determined Knitting Today cannot carry hard copy patterns that are also available via download direct from the publisher because the majority of our customers are internet savvy and have in fact downloaded and brought in the pattern vs. purchasing it at Knitting Today. I need to put the $ on potential sales instead.

    There are publishing designers that allow download “licenses” to the LYS owners and enables them to sell the .pdf or be an affiliate for the sale — I’m investigating that model now and figuring out how to program it through my existing shopping cart program since the funds are actually captured by the publishing designer. There might be potential with this model.

    Another model is to publish .pdf of discontinued patterns/magazines. A magazine publisher is doing that now, but sometimes the shop model invested in and several issues of the magazine are still available at the shop — the publisher’s impression of what is out of print and the reality is not matching — frustrating and again a magazine that Knitting Today is not able to support.

    I’m thinking more and more of going to in-house design contracts for exclusivity and promotion. Is this a subject you have addressed? I’m slowly going back through your archives.


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