Hard times for Homeschool Companies

Signs of the worsening economy are beginning to manifest themselves. This letter went out from Lampstand Press a few days ago, Lampstand Press publishes Tapestry of Grace Curriculum. I am a big fan of TOG, we are using it this year and I plan to keep using it throughout our homeschool adventure.

I am going to paste the letter here on the blawg, for anyone who did not get the letter (I did not receive it) and because it is next to impossible to find it on their website, so I cannot just link to it.

Sky and I had a serious discussion after I read the letter, and we decided to go ahead and pre-order Years 2 and 3 in print, because I like to use the printed version in my binders-and we don't really know when the Digital version will actually be released. I really feel bad for the company, and I am very grateful that they let the customers know what is going on..and I am grateful that they are planning to publish it in some format, so that homeschool families can still continue to use it.

Here you go;

Dear friends,

I'm sure that you, just like the rest of the nation, have read about the financial crises that began to unfold on Wall Street a few weeks ago. The prediction was that this devastation would trickle down to Americans across the country as capital assets began to lose their value, and mortgages were in jeopardy. Unfortunately, Lampstand Press is experiencing in real time what you are hearing in newscasts.

For some time we have known that we would need some additional investment to finish what we've started, and were very grateful to have had an investor who was willing to provide what we expected to need. Unfortunately, just as we were about to receive this vital investment, Wall Street's woes made it impossible for our investor to follow through, leaving us trying to another source of funds at a particularly bad time. Credit, investors, and capital have become impossible for us to find.

Things have looked rather bleak at Lampstand Press and we actually began making plans to shut down, even as we prayed for other options. Over the years we've received many calls and emails from people who tell us that Tapestry of Grace has borne fruit in the lives of their families and that homeschools have been revolutionized. After much prayer and counsel, we feel that our current experience is best expressed by these verses in John: Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:1-2) We believe that God is pruning Tapestry, not cutting it off altogether.

If we are right, it means there has to be some way to keep providing you with this God-honoring homeschooling curriculum. Over the last month, we've seriously considered a long list of increasingly radical options, including moving our whole operation to an economically depressed area so that we could qualify for targeted investment money. We've put everything on the table, but God has not provided any outside source of financial supply as of today. After ruling out every other alternative, we've come to the conclusion that the only way to complete the Redesign project is make a fundamental change to the way we produce Tapestry year-plans.

The problem we face is very simple--we don't currently have the kind of capital we need to continue business as usual. Our business has always been seasonal, and thus it involves carrying inventory and fronting printing costs through the winter, when, of course, very few people are buying curriculum. Also, we have struggled to keep up with the up-front costs of printing. Each time our sales go up (and they keep going up) we sell out of our existing supply of Tapestry, which means we have to find the funds to reprint thousands more copies in order to supply even one more order. We are ready, willing, and able to keep redesigning Tapestry, but we just don't have the capital we need to print thousands of volumes a year in advance and warehouse them until the orders come in, nor to keep open a bookstore that stocks every resource book that we recommend.

The solution to the problem that seems to have emerged is equally simplestop delivering Tapestry through printing presses. This letter is to inform you that we are exploring a shift from printing year-plans to electronic delivery. If it succeeds, with God's help, we would be able to redesign Tapestry of Grace Year 4 on the same basic schedule as the previous three years. The only difference is that it will only be available digitally. While for some people this may at first seem like a real inconvenience and an added cost because you anticipate printing the entire year-plan at home, please consider that printing really unnecessary in order to use all of the content that you are used to receiving in print. The typical user mom reads Tapestry background materials from the printed manual, and then prints out only the worksheets or maps that she needs for her specific students from the Loom disc. Delivering Tapestry on disc instead of in print is really only a small change for most users. Change is often disheartening at first, but please consider this: there are many clear advantages to a digital version of Tapestry of Grace. A few of these include:
-All of Tapestry becomes searchable, constituting an instant index feature.
-Tapestry becomes highly portable: just take your laptop and disc wherever you're traveling! No more bulky manuals to lug around.
-Tapestry volumes on disc take up a tiny fraction of the space that printed manuals do in your home.
-The Loom files and the year-plan PDFs will all be on one easy-to-use disc.
-We will be able to offer Tapestry at a lower coast to all customers. This makes us dance and sing, because it has been the increases in printing costs and overhead that has partially been to blame for our price hikes in recent years.
-Shipping costs will also be much reduced for you and for us. Indeed, for those who buy via a new download system that we envision in the future, there will be no wait or cost involved. Shipping issues and expenses will be eliminated altogether.
-You will now be able to print out all the Reading Assignment Charts that you wish to! This has been an often-expressed desire, which we can now satisfy.
-It will be much easier to keep book lists and assignments current. Indeed, one exciting option with a digital delivery system is the opportunity for us to support Tapestry for years to come in an easy and straightforward manner by creating interactive, Internet-based Reading Assignment pages (like the PDFs on the online Loom) that receive digital updates automatically at the click of a mouse via the Internet.
-Electronically delivered Tapestry pages will be immune to damage, and won't need page protectors . Also, if you lose any part of your manual, you'll be able to just print out a replacement copy for yourself!
-If you have PDF writer software installed on your computer, you can easily add digital notes and/or highlighting to your electronic version, just as you do in your printed version, but your Tapestry original files will truly remain pristine in all circumstances. Flexibility is still our middle name, however, and if you wish to print Teacher's Notes or any other pages of your week-plan, you will be able to do so (without a PDF writer), and mark them up with your own notes, creating your own customized teaching notebook.
In the future, we conceive of re-mastering Tapestry so that customers can buy it for specific learning levels. So, for young families, we anticipate selling at a reduced cost the Tapestry materials one needs for just the early years, and then giving parents the flexibility to add in Tapestry materials for older students in later years. This will lower the entry price point, giving moms of younger students only what they need to complete Tapestry studies in the grammar stages with the ability to add upper level materials in later phases of their homeschools. Thus, digital Tapestry can grow with the family, and expenses can be spread out over the years, instead of needing to be a one-time, up front purchase that then lasts for years.
When available, and again, in the future, we will be able to interlink Tapestry sections with our other supplementary products. So, we envision that you will be able, from the week-plan, to click on, view, and/or print associated maps, evaluations, writing helps, etc. that relate to the material in each week-plan.
Also, we will be able to link to online resources, like Project Gutenberg free copies of literary and primary source works, core books that are free online, etc. In looking at the landscape of publishing, we see that more and more books are becoming digitally available at very inexpensive prices. While we bemoan the passing of printed books, the new world with which we are all confronted may soon make these as much of a luxury as hand-written manuscripts became as the printing press came into use in the 1400's. As far as we are concerned, our preference will always be for printed books, but there is no denying that an optional for digital resources will make Tapestry more affordable, portable, and available to a greater number of homeschoolers as time goes on.

Follow this link (http://tapestryofgrace.com/digital/) to see the format that we are immediately able to deliver for completed units of Tapestry (Years 1 and 2, and the first two units of Year 3). If we receive adequate encouraging feedback, a workable copyright agreement from World Book, and new financing for the move to fully implement our vision for digital Tapestry, we anticipate the ability to eventually develop all the above enhancements and more!

The immediate good news for you, our existing customer, is that going digital increases your options. Digital Edition Tapestry will cost less than the printed version, but even with all its added features, some families will simply prefer to have it in print. For such existing customers, we do still have a limited number of printed year-plans and individual units in stock. In the weeks ahead, those of you who act right away will get to choose the form of Tapestry that is best for your homeschooling years to come.

We must raise much needed immediate funds and test the viability of a change to digital delivery systems for Tapestry. We also want to serve you, our valued existing customers, with enough forward notice for you to make an informed decision. In order to accomplish these ends we are making the following special, limited time offers.

Note: there are two different types of sales detailed below. The first one, our Overstock Sale, has already been announced and runs through November 15th while supplies last. The second saleof Year 2 and Year 3 pre-ordersis new and ongoing.

A limited number of Year 1 Redesigned Bonus Bundles (normally $295) for just $225. The supply is very limited for these, and orders will be filled on a first-come, first served basis. We reserve the right to discontinue this offer when our limited stock is sold out.
A limited number of Year 1 complete (all four units) is also on sale: normally $225, we are offering these at $180, with the same reservations of first come first served as with Bonus Bundles above.
All resource books for Unit 1 for Years 1, 2, and 3 (excluding multi-year or multi-unit books) currently in stock are now on sale for a flat 25% off the retail price. This is an overstock sale, and again, quantities are limited and no backorders will be accepted for this sale.
For all of the above purchases, we have excluded the use of gift certificates. If you wish to secure your printed copy of Tapestry Year 1 Redesigned (or Year 1 Bonus Bundle) or Unit 1 resource books from the Bookshelf using a gift certificate that you currently have, you will need to call Lampstand Press and do so over the phone. Please be advised that prices against which your certificate will be valued will be retail prices, not sale ones.
For all of the above sale items, we have excluded the use of Share & Save gift certificates. If you wish to use your gift certificate to purchase any of the above products at full non-sale price, you will need to call Lampstand Press and do so over the phone.


The global credit problems and our subsequent lack of investor capital have made it impossible for us to print Units 3 and 4 of Redesigned Year 2 (second printing) and Units 3 and 4 of Year 3 Redesigned in a timely fashion without taking new orders. We are therefore offering digital copies of these four units to those customers who have backorders already placed with us. If you are currently waiting on Units 3 and 4 of Years 2 (second printing) and Year 3, you should be receiving a separate email that informs you of our plan to send you free digital copies of Units 3 and 4 in lieu of your printed one, while we gather enough orders to make one last print run of these units.

Here is our offer to customers who wish to place new orders and so obtain a paper copy of either Year 2 (second printing and now completely redesigned, but not yet printed) or Year 3 (first printing: currently completely redesigned through Unit 3, with a planned completion/print date after February 1, 2009). For both of these year-plans, we currently have Units 1 and 2 in print, however, we will ship complete plans after Units 3 and 4 return from the printer.

We cannot promise that these print runs will happen unless we reach a threshold of 450 new orders. (However, given our normal sales numbers, this is not a high threshold to reach under normal circumstances.) Our plan is simple: you can reserve your copy of either Year 2 or Year 3 (complete year-plans only; no individual units) at the sale price of $200 per individual plan (normally $225) using a credit card under the following terms and conditions:
Your credit card WILL NOT BE CHARGED until a total of 450 pre-orders are collected. At that time, we will discontinue this offer.
You will be notified (via the email address that you give us) when we have achieved this order threshold and given one working week to cancel your order. There will be a $25 cancellation fee for each cancelled order. If we do not receive a cancellation from you, we will finalize your order by charging your card.
If the threshold remains at 450 orders within two weeks of the end of the cancellation period, we will charge all 450 cards and send the year-plan(s) to the printer. Printing takes 3 to 5 weeks, depending on how busy the printer is.
Year 2, Second Printing, is now completely redesigned, and will go to the printer as soon as the 450 orders are gathered.
Year 3 is being redesigned and edited. Unit 3 will be ready to print in two weeks; Unit 4 should be ready for press in late January, and possibly sooner. To save costs in both printing and shipping, we will send them to the printer together.
Again, all these quantities, especially at these prices, are strictly limited to 450 orders. In the future, we may be able to use this form of pre-ordering to produce more printed Tapestry volumes, but we anticipate that it is much more likely that these are the last print runs of Tapestry that we will be making, so if you wish to use Tapestry in print form, please place your order as soon as possible.

We are not at this time marketing digital Tapestry to the general public. We must do more research into costs, finish the process of gaining a written digital copyright agreement with World Book, and must install new software ordering systems in order to do so. However, as mentioned above, we plan to send prototypes of the first iteration of digital edition Tapestry to those Year 2 and Year 3 customers who lack promised printed units as soon as they are ready, per the email they will receive separately.

We are grateful to you, our beloved homeschool family, for the trust you've placed in us in the past and the support you've shown us through prayer and through emails as we have all enjoyed the amazing fruits of Tapestry of Grace. In the troubling times in which we live, we count on the grace of God now more than ever, and need your patience and partnership so that we can continue to provide the curriculum that we find so satisfying to Christian homeschool families in the future. Please continue to pray for us as we work as hard as we can to continue to produce Tapestry of Grace.

With appreciation and fondness,
Marcia Somerville
Lampstand Press, Ltd.