Just a few decades ago, the words "crafts" and "homemade" seemed synonymous. That was before crafters such as Martha Stewart and Mary Engelbreit in home decorating and Kaffe Fassett in needle arts began using color, texture and shape to transform even a simple pillow into a "handmade" piece of art. No longer do people tuck their favorite photographs into an album. Instead they combine photos with rubber-stamped images and words on elaborate papers to create artistic scrapbooks or memory albums. Some even transfer images to cloth and then sew them into one-of-a-kind memory quilts.

Nor has technology dimmed the desire to make things faster, easier or more beautiful. Web sites abound -- as well as books to track them down, including C&T's Free Stuff on the Internet series by Judy Heim and Gloria Hansen with new titles targeted to stitchers, sewing fanatics, crafty kids and quilters. Some sites offer free goodies, others sell tools and supplies, still others provide chat rooms for crafters. Those in search of new craft thrills can even scroll through lists on Internet search engines, Yahoo for example, where they can find such unusual pastimes as Dumpster diving.

Even in the pre-computer era, crafting was actually a leisure-time activity that closely resembled work, maintains Steven M. Gelber, woodworker and chair of the History Department at Santa Clara University, in his newly released Hobbies (Columbia Univ. Press) on leisure activities from the mid-19th century through the 1950s. Rather than being a respite from work, hobbies are based on the very same principles. "Crafts," says Gelber, "are an analog of the manufacturing process. You sit down with the raw materials and create something that has value. They confirm the importance of working and producing."

Make It Quick, Make It Easy

Not that the work connection has in any way diminished the joy of crafting for Gelber or millions of other crafters, or wannabes, who, as in the business world, often prefer to take the easy way out. Despite the ongoing popularity of do-it-yourself books, Lyn Roberts, manager of Square Books in Oxford, Miss., has found that customers want "things that don't require a lot of skill or expertise. You don't decide you're going to build a chair and pick up a book." For her, strong sales for such titles as Bulfinch's recently released Painted Furniture by Katrin Cargill and Trafalgar Square's The Mosaic Book by Peggy Vance and Celia Goodrich-Clarke point up changes in the craft market as a whole. "Twenty years ago," she notes, "it was macramé and needlepoint. Now it's slapping paint on stuff and gluing on pieces of china. It d sn't take any skill."

Other popular crafts such as scrapbooking, offer, in the words of Carol Dahlstrom, who edits the craft books for Meredith/Better Homes and Gardens Books, "a way to use your creativity without having a particular technique or skill." The biggest trend she sees is "the quick-and-easy, make-it-in-an-evening. People are so incredibly busy." Dahlstrom attributes the success of last November's Simply Handmade: 365 Easy Gifts and Decorations You Can Make (more than 100,000 copies in print), which she edited and co-wrote, to the fact that all the projects can be done quickly. "You can make them with things that you already have or that are easy to get." She plans to follow up that success with a Simply Handmade series. The next book, ...365 Easy Projects for Every Special Occasion, is due out next year.

According to Clarkson Potter editorial director (and Martha Stewart's editor) Lauren Shakeley, that doyenne of crafts is transforming the crafts area, Ã la Lee Bailey, whose bestselling cookbooks have tremendous "armchair cook" appeal. "Armchair crafters are swept away by the beauty of the projects," remarks Shakeley, who acknowledges that many don't have time to make the projects, much less read Martha Stewart Living, where many of those projects first appeared.

Potter, which Shakeley calls "a very author-driven company," is changing its list to feature only splashy, four-color books for crafters and their armchair counterparts. With the upturn in the U.S. economy, she sees a general willingness to spend on coffee-table craft/lifestyle books such as Christmas with Martha Stewart Living: Crafts and Keepsakes for the Holidays (Sept.) and Debbie Travis' Decorating Solutions (Sept.). "When the economy was not doing that well, we were looking for a different kind of book. Now it's a different market, and people are buying our $50, $45 and $35 books," Shakeley tells PW.

For booksellers, among them John Netzer, buyer for Connecticut's New Canaan Book Shop, "Price is not a factor." He d s well with the Martha Stewart paperbacks: "I always sell out of those." Nor have Perry M. Atterberry and Stefanie Hargreaves, editors of the Home and Garden section at Amazon.com, encountered price resistance. Even such pricey lifestyle crafters as Martha Stewart and Carolyne R hme, they note, "always do well for us. We find many of our customers are interested in adding a little elegance to their lives. In addition to specific projects, these books are very good at giving the reader a comprehensive overview of the craft, which seems to be what our customers are looking for."

At Barnes & Noble, however, price definitely is a factor. "The inexpensive titles are the most popular," comments Debra Williams, director of corporate communications. Nonetheless, Stewart's Good Things, Volume 3, which lists for $20 in paperback, ranks among the chain's top five craft and hobby titles.

Crafting with Style

While she may not be number one (yet), Mary Engelbreit is an artist whose decorating books and Home Companion magazine have spawned an entire division at Andrews McMeel. The publisher is a venture partner in the three-year-old magazine, which has a circulation of more than 500,000. "We formed the Mary Engelbreit division in September 1997," explains Jean Lowe, director of the publishing program. "She's one of our major properties in terms of dollars and units. Our whole impetus is women who are being creative in their own home, and Engelbreit appeals to women on an emotional level. She gets a lot of mail from women who write, 'I want to live in your art.' "

Although Better Homes and Gardens publishes Engelbreit's craft books (Crafts to Celebrate the Seasons

and Wrap It Up: Gifts to Make, Wrap, and Give are slated for September), Andrews McMeel handles the rest, including decorating-oriented titles such as October's Paint and Plates. This fall for the first time, A-M will issue a non-Engelbreit book in its eponymous division. In a November title, Today show contributor Carol Endler Sterbenz and her daughter, Genevieve Sterbenz, offer dozens of projects, from healthful drinks to nourishing lotions, for creating The Home Spa.

On the West Coast, San Francisco-based Bay Books is hoping to turn British personality Anne McKevitt, who launched her own product line in the U.K. in January, into a U.S. home crafting and decorating guru. Many of her British television appearances have been picked up on HGTV here in the States. What distinguishes McKevitt, according to promotion and publicity coordinator Lisa Regul, is her particular sense of style: "It's very bright, very inexpensive and very creative." Last year's Style on a Sh string: Simple Ideas for Fantastic Rooms, which Bay Books published in the U.S., sold 80,000 copies worldwide. The publisher is working to grow sales for McKevitt's just-published House Sensation, which features projects that use simple materials (rubber bands, magazine cutouts) in creating art pieces to jazz up a home. A strong believer in recycling, McKevitt even finds stylish ways to reuse cardboard tubes as CD holders. Another publisher targeting new titles to the budget-conscious is St. Martin's, whose Leslie Linsley's High-Style, Low-Cost Decorating Ideas for Every Room in the House was published last month as a Griffin trade paperback.

Chronicle Books, for one, would like to put "style" back into lifestyle. Editor Leslie Jonath observes that, in the past few years, "there's been an explosion of people who want to craft, or think they want to craft. Craft is being reinvented as projects." Following up on a similar surge in kids' crafts, Jonath has targeted her acquisitions to parents, and each book includes crafts that they can do with their children. November's Snowmen, which Jonath not only edited but co-wrote (with Peter Cole), contains instructions on building snow characters, ranging from Santa to Jackie SnOw (complete with kerchief and dark glasses), as well as recipes for Marshmallow Snowmen and tips for making Keepsake Cards.

Chronicle's other seasonal craft books place a heavy emphasis on cooking, for example, last fall's popular Halloween Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family by Donata Maggipinto and its sequel, Summertime Treats by Sara Perry. (Perry is also the author of the forthcoming Christmastime Treats, while next spring's Easter Treats is by Jill O'Connor.) These books appeal not only to traditional outlets, Jonath notes, but to stores that specialize in housewares and cooking, such as the Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and Williams Sonoma.

Carol Publishing, which is merging with the LPC Group at the end of the month, has also sought nontraditional markets for its home decorating titles, including Bed Bath & Beyond for the newest addition to its Cheapskate's Guide series, Home Decorating: How to Make, Find, or Buy Inexpensive but Stylish Decor. In this October release, author Jo Stewart Wray provides modish projects for those with a creative bent but little time or money. According to publicity manager Keri Cappadona, Carol's special sales department "used to just visit shopping malls. Now there are directories of catalogues, and the Internet is helping a lot to find new outlets."

Carol Judy Leslie, publisher of Bulfinch Press, credits nontraditional outlets not just with selling books but creating a market for them. She singles out the Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware for "encouraging people interested in home improvement. They create an awareness and give you decorating options that are accessible and aren't all unaffordable."

For Leslie, there's more to lifestyle than just how-to. "Our books," she says, "tend to be more inspirational than practical. I like the idea that they're not all step-by-step. You can look at a room or a piece of furniture and you can use it to imagine." Many of Bulfinch's books, Leslie adds, are craftsperson's craft books and build slowly. "They reach their market, and the reorder pattern is quite good," Leslie observes, noting that The Complete Potter's Companion by Tony Birks, which first came out in 1993 and was revised last year, continues to sell 10,000 copies a year.

Hot Stuff: Painting, Pottery, Scrapbooking & Mosaics

Without the know-how necessary for painting and pottery, it would be hard for crafters to follow through on many lifestyle projects. These areas, especially as they translate into glass painting, mosaics and scrapbooking, are among the hottest crafts in an increasingly crowded market.

Sterling, now in its 50th year and one of the largest craft publishers in the U.S. (more than 20% of its 3000 backlist titles are devoted to crafts), is about to grow that part of its list even more with its recent acquisition of Lark Books (News, June 28). According to Sterling executive v-p Charles Nurnberg, "We are ecstatic. They are wonderful people to work with, and the Lark acquisition puts us into the upper end of the market." Both Sterling and Lark, which will operate as an independent imprint, have strong mosaic and painting titles that are geared to quick-and-easy projects.

In November, Lark will publish Danielle Truscott's The New Mosaics: 40 Projects to Make with Glass, Metal, Paper, Beans, Buttons, Felt, Found Objects & More and Kathy Cooper's Painting Floorcloths. Among Sterling's new titles are Rubber Stamping for the First Time by Today contributor Carol Scheffler (Sept.) and the just-published Glass Painting in an Afternoon by Mickey Baskett, one of the first books devoted entirely to the art of painting on glass and part of the publisher's In an Afternoon series.

Those for whom an afternoon isn't quite enough time might want to consult the In a Weekend series, published by Merehurst in the U.K. and distributed on this side of the pond by Tuttle. Out last September were the first four titles, Garden Projects, Tiling and Mosaics, Pots and Planters and Painted Pieces, all bearing the appealing subtitle Simple Step-by-Step Projects for Maximum Effect with Minimum Effort. Eight more titles are due out in the next three years.

Many publishers offer help with painting and design for the home, but few do it via a medieval manuscript. Aidan Meehan d s just that, however, in Thames & Hudson's The Book of Kells Painting Book (Oct.), which breaks down the fauna in this ancient work of art into four basic animal types. Those who prefer to stencil their designs can refer to Overlook's The Stencilled Home by Helen Morris (Oct.), which contains 13 themed rooms, from Nautical Bathroom to Grecian Hallway. For a more detailed look at designs by place and period, Stemmer House publishes the 74-book International Design Library. The latest addition, by Ph be Ann Erb, focuses on Medieval Floral Designs (Sept.).

Like Chronicle's Jonath, Grace Freedson, managing editor and director of acquisitions at Barron's, prefers books with "I-can-do-it-at-home and I-can-do-it-with-my-kids" appeal. "There's an opportunity for parent-child experience with a craft," she comments, adding that "people are going back to the leisure-time activities that they did as kids." In October, Barron's will publish The Potter's Wheel by Barbaformosa, a photo-packed guide to pottery and other ceramics, and this month will add four titles by Jose Maria Parramon to its Workbooks for Painting series: Exotic Animals, Garden Flowers, Landscapes and Seasons and Nudes.

For Vermont-based Trafalgar Square, crafts continue to be "a mainstay," says managing director Paul Feldstein. Although he wouldn't go so far as to say, like many of his counterparts, that mosaics is the hottest trend ("I don't think any of us are prescient enough to know"), he d s acknowledge that the market for these titles is growing. Next month, Trafalgar will help expand that market with Emma Biggs and Tessa Hunkin's Mosaic Workshop, which is both a BOMC Crafter's Choice and Country Homes & Gardens Book Club selection. Trafalgar's how-to on making tiles from scratch or decorating existing ones, The Handmade Tile Book (Sept.) by Liza Gardner is also a pick of both BOMC clubs.

Jim Childs, publisher of the Taunton Press, a mid-size specialty house in Newtown, Conn., with a strong list of craft books, tries to avoid short-term fads such as stained glass and rubber stamps. "Since we're also a magazine publisher, we have an ongoing relationship with the consumer. We try to sell to people over a lifetime and publish into long-term trends." For him, his biggest competitor "is not other publishers. It's 'time.' " Kaffe Fassett and Candace Bahouth's collaboration, Mosaics: Inspiration and Original Projects for Interiors and Exteriors (Oct.), fits Childs's publishing criteria for both speediness and longevity. (Fassett, primarily known as a prolific needle artist, also has a September release coming from Pastimes, a division of Martingale: Welcome Home offers 14 projects for home decor, including mosaics and quilts.) Next spring, Taunton will reissue some of Fassett's earlier knitting books, beginning with Family Album.

EFG, of St. Louis, Mo., is a publisher so sure that scrapbooking is here to stay that in June it officially changed its name -- from the targeted Newsletter Resources to a more neutral one (the publisher's initials) -- in order to publish Scrapbook Storytelling by Joanna Campbell Slan (Nov.). The house also has three more Slan scrapbook titles in the pipeline. Publisher Elaine Floyd tells PW, "We're enjoying the scrapbook market because it's so reachable through specialty stores, five main scrapbook magazines and key Web sites. This is a book marketer's dream!"

For her part, Slan has watched the availability of scrapbook materials dramatically increase over the past 16 months. "Living here in St. Louis, the geographical heart of the U.S., I've seen the number of scrapbook stores go from zero to four and the camera stores, the art stores and the discount stores like Target add scrapbooking supplies." She regards her audience as "women who are terribly busy and want some way to chronicle their lives. These are women who wouldn't write an autobiography, but this is an underground way of saying our lives have value."

A number of other publishers are continuing to take up the scrapbook mantra. Coming in September is a new entry in the popular Country Living Handmade series from Hearst Books, ...Scrapbooks: Making Personalized Memory Albums by the editors of Country Living. (Other September additions to the series are ...Picture Frames and ...Halloween.)

And Sew On: Quilting, Stitching, Knitting and More

"More than almost any other craft, knitting is author driven," observes Trafalgar's Paul Feldstein. "Knitters really look for their favorite authors." Trafalgar d s its best to deliver via books by knitting stars such as Debbie Bliss, who has a new collection of designs for infants to 10-year-olds, Great Knits for Kids (Sept.), and the paperback edition of knitter Alice Starmore's Celtic Needlepoint (Sept.), which sold close to 50,000 copies in hardcover.

Taunton's Childs attributes the star phenomenon to the fact that "design is so important to knitting. That's why you get standouts; it's very much an international field." This fall, Melissa Leapman updates classic sweaters in A Close-Knit Family: Sweaters for Everyone You Love (Sept.), varying the children and adult versions so that they're not exactly alike. In addition, Australian knitting designer Jo Sharp follows up the success of last fall's Rudgyard Story with a new set of sweaters for beginning knitters, Knitting Bazaar (July 1999).

Knitting guru Meg Swansen shares the secrets of a lifetime of knitting in Interweave Press's Meg Swansen's Knitting (Sept.), while Nicky Epstein shows how to add that perfect finishing touch in the recently released Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments: 350 Appliqués, Borders, Cords and More!

Sometimes, it's not the name of the knitter but the place where the designs first appeared that garner recognition -- and sales. Sterling is hoping that will be the case with six new Vogue Knitting magazine titles, edited by Trisha Malcolm, slated for September. They include books on designer knits, pillows, baby knits and socks.

Although name recognition isn't as important in other areas of fiber arts, it certainly d sn't hurt sales of books such as C&T's Rotary Quilting with Alex Anderson, host of HGTV's Simply Quilts. Still, a book's overall concept, for example, Abrams's Handmade Baby Gifts (Oct.) by Teresa Layman, a BOMC Crafter's Choice selection, can be the determining factor in how it sells.

For Dummies publisher IDG, it's the name that says it all. Begun as a computer book series for people who felt lost in technology, the Dummies concept quickly took root in many other spheres of life. "There are always going to be people who feel like they missed the boat," explains Holly McGuire, acquisitions editor for gardening, how-to, crafts and languages. "Crafts in the last decade has taken off as a trend. People like Martha Stewart have upped the glamour. We find that a lot of professional women are turning back to sewing. Sewing is a stress reliever, and we've had requests to enter the sewing market." IDG made its first foray into the crafts area last September with Home Decorating for Dummies (more than 40,000 copies sold); that title has been recently joined by a trio of distinctly craft titles: Quilting... by Cheryl Fall, Sewing... by Jan Saunders and Crafts... by Leslie Linsley ("Finally," says the publisher, "a craft book that d sn't require a Master's in Martha Stewart Living!").

Anne Knudsen, senior editor at Contemporary Books and Quilt Digest Press, is also pleased to see that sewing is attracting younger professional women who are looking for a creative outlet. "Quilting," she notes, "crosses all generations. The people who are really getting into making quilts are pretty sophisticated, and the books that are working for us are a little offbeat." She also finds that, like cooks, "quilters are real book collectors. They'll keep them by the bed and read them for inspiration." But the kinds of books they're looking for, says Knudsen, have changed. "We don't do many pattern books. We teach them processes. I think that where the market's going. Five or six years ago, people were wanting lots of patterns." Among Knudsen's favorite upcoming titles are Jinny Beyer's Designing Tessellations: The Secrets of Interlocking Patterns, which she regards as not just a quilting book but a design title for use in arts ranging from mosaics to computer graphics; Kumiko Sudo's Fantasies and Flowers: Origami in Fabric for Quilters (Oct.); and Ann Johnston's The Quilter's Book of Design (Oct.).

Trish Katz, director of publicity and promotions at C&T, observes, "People drift in and out of quilting. There's definitely a crossover with other needle arts. A lot of larger quilt shops are more progressive. You'll see yarns, and wools and flannels." Although the baby boomers continue to dominate the quilting field, C&T is trying to entice a younger audience. Katz tells PW, "We're trying to gear some of the things we do to younger people. We show smaller projects that are more fun and more colorful that don't require a strong time commitment." Among the publisher's most popular new sewing releases are Jean and Valori Wells's Through the Garden Gate: Quilters and Their Gardens (Mar.), Jean Ray Laury's Photo Transfer Handbook (July) and Susanna Oroyan's Designing the Doll (Mar.).

Back to Basics, or, Surviving the Millennium

Woodworking is another traditional craft with strong boomer appeal. In fact, Taunton associate publisher Helen Albert sees boomers as the reason it's continuing to grow. "Woodworking is for those whose kids are out of the house and are looking for something to do. Anybody who's really detail oriented is attracted to woodworking -- engineers and architects. In a way, it's an antidote to the abstract thinking in their lives."

Now that Rodale is no longer publishing woodworking titles, Taunton, which also issues Fine Woodworking magazine, "is one of the last publishing companies with a dedicated woodworking list," boasts Albert, herself an accomplished woodworker. "We're doing 10-14 books a year." Although woodworking often requires a bigger financial commitment than other crafts -- as much as $10,000 in equipment alone -- many people are attracted to it, according to Albert, because "it's a way to relax and to stay connected to the physical world. At Taunton, we're into the sheer joy of the craft and giving people information so they can do things really well." But, as with other crafts, she's finding that "woodworkers are looking for more accessible things to do." That's just where the company's new Taunton Furniture Project series fits in. Each book includes weekend projects as well as those that are more long-term. The first two titles, Beds Step-by-Step by Jeff Miller and Bookcases Step-by-Step by Niall Barrett, will be out in October. In November, the company will also release two new collections of articles from Fine Woodworking that are part of its Essentials of Woodworking series: Finishes and Finishing Techniques and Joinery, Shaping and Milling.

Not content with a mere bed or bookcase? For do-it-yourselfers who are interested in building the whole house, or simply in seeing how it's put together, Watson-Guptill's The Arts and Crafts House by Adrian Tinniswood (Oct.) -- featuring houses built in the U.S., Britain and Europe between the 1850s and 1930s -- could be just the ticket. Gibbs Smith's The Log Home Plan Book by Cindy Thiede and Heather Mehra-Pederson (Sept.) is also chock-full of ideas.

For some publishers, old has become new again, especially in the face of the potential havoc of the millennium. Anna Sue Crogins, buyer at Barron's Books in Longview, Tex., tells PW, "Sales have picked up more in living off the land and back-to-basic- [areas]. Those books have all of the things you might need to know, from butchering to making your own soaps."

Reader's Digest's aptly named Back to Basics, which was first published in 1981 and then updated and reprinted in 1996, has seen a corresponding jump in sales with the approach of the year 2000, according to the press's publicist for adult trade books, Leigh Curtin. The title has sold more than two million copies since its original release, and in 1999 it has consistently been among Amazon.com's top 150-500 bestsellers. Currently, Reader's Digest is running a special promotion, through which booksellers can earn extra co-op or discount, for it and two other RD backlist titles with Y2K appeal: Home Emergencies and Home Made, Best Made.

Candlemaking, too, has proved to be one of the enduring, and practical, arts. Running Press provides an A-Z visual directory in Sandie Lea's The Encyclopedia of Candlemaking Techniques. For those who want to light their tapers almost before they're made, North Light Books gives tips aplenty in its Candle Making in a Weekend by Sue Spear.

Soap's On

Another "back to basics'' craft that seems to be seeing a resurgence is soapmaking -- "a very substantial craft," says Nurnberg at Sterling. "It's also part of the body/mind/spirit market, and we've seen it sell for several years," he adds. Sterling's newest book in this category is Marie Browning's Natural Soapmaking (Aug.).

Soap also gets high ratings at such specialty stores as Learningsmith, which created its own Sunny Soap Making Kit just for teens, as well as the chains; at Barnes & Noble, Cassandra Eason's Complete Soapmaker Book & Kit is the second-most popular craft title (right after Better Homes and Gardens 501 Quilt Blocks). Just last month, USA Today featured a story on soapmaking, complete with a recipe for Very Simple Soap; among the books mentioned were "the visually stunning" Handmade Soap Book by Melinda Coss (Storey, 1998) and Country Living Handmade Soap: Recipes for Crafting Soap at Home by Mike Hulbert (Hearst).

Deborah Balmuth, acquisitions editor at Storey, regards soapmaking as a cross-craft phenomenon. "It originally came out of the interest in using natural products and really wanting to make things good for your body," she says. "But we've definitely seen a surge in the sales of soap books over the last year. It is that Y2K audience as well as crafts." Moreover, she adds, "A lot of people are going into soapmaking because it's something that they can make money at." Should those entrepreneurial folks need help, Prima is launching the For Fun and Profit series; included among its first six titles (due in October) is Soapmaking for Fun and Profit by Maria Nerius. The publisher also offers guidance of a more general nature via Sylvia Landman's The Official Guide to Pricing Your Crafts (Dec.).

For Balmuth, soap also fits into the body care and body decorating phenomenon. Storey publishes a complete line of books in this area, ranging from Naturally Healthy Hair by Mary Beth Janssen to Body Care Just for Men by Jim Long to 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Yourself by Stephanie Tourles (all due in October).

Variety -- the Spice of Crafts

Of course, there are almost as many types of crafts as there are materials to make things from. Certainly no listing is complete without acknowledging the many titles geared to the holidays, such as Creative Publishing's Christmas Crafts & Entertaining, out this month with a 100,000-copy first printing. For a further assist on decorating for the holidays -- and throughout the year -- Facts on File's Checkmark imprint offers Country Decorating Through the Seasons: Over 130 Step-by-Step Projects and Inspirational Ideas (June) by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell and Gloria Nicol.

The making of paper -- and getting creative with the folding of it -- continues to be a favorite with young and old alike. Perhaps one of the more unusual books this season is Cypress House's second edition of Exotic Paper Airplanes by Thay Yang (Oct.), which shows users how to turn an ordinary sheet of paper into a Concorde or a MIG-27. Storey's The Handmade Paper Book by Angela Ramsay offers stylish tips for making stationery, wrappings and gifts.

Beading also continues to be a popular craft, with many stores devoted exclusively to beading and craft and clothing stores featuring special beading displays. Dover's North American Indian Beadwork Designs (Oct.) depicts the intricate geometric and floral patterns used by Native Americans on belts, pouches, and garments.

Titles on rugmaking, too, continue to abound; Firefly Books helps transform this traditional craft into a contemporary art form with its September publication of Rag Rugs by Juju Vail.

While Taunton's Childs may be right when he predicts that "crafts are overpublished -- there is going to be a shakeout," there's no question that hobbies and crafts continues to be a diverse, and profitable, publishing area. Watson-Guptill associate publisher Harriet Pierce agrees with Childs, conceding that "it's a very crowded field." But she finds room for growth, with some provisos: "You can't afford to tentatively publish a book. It's got to deliver in every way: the colors have to be very good; the price point has to be good."

To extend author Steven Gelber's analogy between hobbies and work, book sales in this category most closely resemble the Dow index. It seems like sales should have maxed out, but with each passing day they just keep inching up. As Amazon.com's Atterberry and Hargreaves point out, "Crafts have grown considerably over the past year." And, for now at any rate, there's no sign that the category will be slowing down. Just think of all the books that will be needed in the next few months alone -- instructions for all those pumpkins to be carved, Hanukkah gifts to be crafted and Christmas-tree ornaments to be made.