I've got a little secret to share: We have a pretty good understanding of your reading habits when it comes to Woodshop News. There's hard data from readership surveys and Web stat reports, plus feedback from e-mails, phone conversations and - the most valuable source of all - face-to-face conversations with real readers.
What have we learned? You really enjoy the profiles. There's something about learning how other woodworkers became woodworkers, how they've grown their business and how they weather economic storms, for example, that you just can't get enough of. We profile two shops a month, 24 a year, and you still ask for more.
The wood market reports are another very popular feature, which explains why we've been publishing them for nearly 25 years. Information about new tools, finishing and best business practices - usually delivered in the Pro Shop column - also rank high on the list of reasons you read Woodshop News.
But every now and then, we really knock it out of the park with our news coverage. Two examples quickly come to mind. The all-time most-talked-about story is Eugene Sexton and his mysterious wood-drying process. I've got Mr. Sexton on speed dial because we've done so many updates. And when the day comes that he finally shares his secret, we'll have to tell our printer to work overtime.
The second most popular news subject is anything to do with SawStop's safety device. We've covered the company's showstopping debut at IWF, its inability to get other manufacturers to license its technology, its efforts to petition the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and, mostly recently, its role in the $1.5 million jury verdict against Ryobi.
For three out of the last four issues, we've had a page or more of letters responding to the verdict. Most letter writers have either expressed their outrage at the verdict or fears that SawStop's technology will be mandated by the government on all table saws. Those that own a SawStop saw tout the technology, while skeptics wonder if the technology has been thoroughly proven.
The SawStop story will play on for years. There will be more lawsuits, competitors will either adopt SawStop's technology or develop their own, the government and insurance industry will surely play a role and consumers will continue to make their voices heard. Whatever happens, you can read all about it in Woodshop News.
* * *
I admit I've been a little late to the social media party. When someone says "tweet," I think of Tweety Bird and Sylvester the Cat. But as with most things in life, it's wrong to judge things until you've given them an honest effort.
So now I'm able to report that Woodshop News is happily "tweeting" away on Twitter. Come follow us at www.twitter.com/woodshop news as we report breaking news and other information to help your businesses grow. While it's a great avenue for instantly sharing information, as a follower of professional shops, woodworking machinery manufacturers, accessory suppliers and industry organizations, we're in a better position to give you the news you can use.
In other words, come follow us and we'll follow you.
This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue.