California Typewriter & handmade notebooks

So I’ve up and moved to California and decided that a visit to California Typewriter is in my near future. Have you been? See the thing is, all my typewriters are in storage, along with everything I own except two shirts and a pen. Must rectify this.

Unrelatedly, I’ve taken up a new hobby of making notebooks, most recently constructed entirely of paper grocery bags, Scotch tape, and cardboard packaging, owing to my lack of personal effects. Behold, a gallery.

So, a new colleague of mine (correction, I am the new one) brought two pristine Olympia typewriters to the office the other day, a Craigslist find, along with a box of accessories I’ve only read about, typewriter oil and ribbon tins, this sort of thing. I was working at my desk and heard typing, this is how I found out about it. Trying to talk her into starting a typewriter club at [my latest tech employer about which You Probably Have a Strong Opinion]. Which has, unexpectedly, an Analog Research Lab full o screenprinting equipment.

That is all.


  1. Very cool about the notebooks. My most prized notebook-making tool is a long-reach stapler.

    Good luck with your new job and relocation. Moving can be challenging.

    Hope you find a nice typewriter soon, and also that you get the “club” started at work. Wouldn’t that make for a neat Wired story!

  2. Wonderful notebooks!

    I highly recommend California Typewriter, they are great people selling and fixing great machines.

    Hope your new position is going well. I’m in Oakland twice a year, usually. A Bay Area type-in may be in order.

  3. Interesting! Good luck & good start.

  4. Been to California Typewriters, the Permillions are great folks and the shop is awesome.

    If Richard’s proposed type-in is July or August, there’s a chance I can join. I just might be in berkeley.

  5. Don W

    I have a Smith-Corona electronic and when people see it they stop and stare. S-C stopped selling the cartridges this summer.

    These people know what they are doing:

  6. Hi Cheryl, welcome to the neighborhood! I made a trip to California Typewriter last year – they’re great folks. Here’s my (poor) write-up:

  7. Darn it, I wasn’t done!

    My friend Annie and I sometimes host “Snail Mail Socials” at ARCH Drafting Supply in SF, but really they’re type-ins. If you’re into the idea of having one or two, I’d love to help, or just meet up and have you come to one of ours!


  8. Hey Cheryl — you moved to the Bay Area? How wonderful.And Carolee had a great idea inviting you to the Snail Mail Social she and Annie host — they are a lot of fun. Your booklets are terrific. I’m making all sorts of booklets too. Want to trade?
    Welcome to California!

  9. Best wishes with the move!

  10. Thank you all for the comments. It is nice to hear from folks after my lame update history in recent years. Pamela and Carolee, I would love to attend or help start up any paper-y events so please invite me.

    MPC / Richard / lo-tech, bay area type in, mandatory.

  11. Oh Joe, my stapler is in storage, and I have been using scotch tape to bind every page of my notebook. Kind of a weird method but it works.

  12. Good surrogate for a long-arm stapler is a short-arm stapler unfolded. I punch through quite a few sheets on a pre-creased spine onto carpet and fold the spikes together with a scalpel handle – it is what I have on hand, OK. Nice to see you ‘back’.

  13. Enjoyed the update… and the photos of the “abandoned mall” are fascinating and in a way haunting. I might share your post with some friends who find such things of interest as well.

    -Will Davis

  14. Notebooks look really cool! I haven’t been to California Typewriter, but last week, I brought my vintage Underwood (purchased on eBay) to U.S. Office Machine Co in Pasadena. Ruben, who took over for his dad after he passed, made a repair for me on the spot, and told great stories, too. Apparently Colin Hanks came in just a few days before, too. Just another option if you want to check it out!

  15. The typewriter is there when I am ready to write. There is more to it than just not being distracted by the laptop fan and internet. The manual typewriter sits precisely where you left it, at one spot on the page, whether you go away for a minute, or for a day. The next key you hit is the next printed letter, regardless of when you hit it. There is no screensaver. There is no hibernation. There is no re-booting. It is silent and ready, a sentry with one purpose: to put my thoughts immediately to paper.

    Why use a typewriter as an author? It makes me think. I can type faster than I can think; I needed a set of “brakes” to slow down; a computer keyboard and mouse was not enough. It’s the difference between driving and walking. Drive a car along the winding road through the woods and you will get to the end faster. But, walk the edge of the winding road and you will feel the cool air and smell the woods. You will hear the birds. You will sense fear when you hear a rustling in the brush from an unseen animal. You will get wet when it starts raining.

    The typewriter is a walk, not a drive. It is feeling, not just doing.

    You enjoy the editing first on the paper itself, a tactile experience. You have a stack of pages that you can scribble on. You can jot notes. You can add arrows and circles and squares and your own personal symbols that you cannot do with editing on a computer.

    I own an Apple Macbook Pro and a Windows PC, but I no longer use them for first drafts. I use the Royal Futura. Then, when I have the original typed draft and a thorough edit on the typed page with swirling red pencil and little smiles next to the parts I like, I read it all into Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software directly into the word processing software. It’s amazing the mistakes I pick up–dialogue that is unnatural to the ear, word redundancies, etc.–that I immediately fix after I’ve read the piece into MS Word. So, by then, I have the rough draft, the first pencil edit, and now a read-out-loud edit, all before I have composed with one key on the PC. It’s a great feeling of mastery. I now have the computer copy to share, email, edit further and tweak to my hearts content. It’s amazing how few think of the eighty dollar voice recognition software that can release a writer from the single most noted reason for not writing on a typewriter: the editing.

    I can bring my manual typewriter to the kitchen table, to the desk by the window, or to a card table set up by a lake on a sunny day; no power cord, no batteries. My fingers provide the energy of the word by moving the keys and creating the strikes. If I’m angry, they strike hard and make big dark letters. If I’m sad, they are faint. The print expresses my emotions, hard or soft, just as piano keys under the fingertips of an accomplished pianist.

    Mr. Green at Amherst Typewriter in Massachusetts reminded me of another advantage of the typewriter: A computer printer will run out of ink suddenly, and usually at midnight, just before the school paper is due. The typewriter ribbon simply becomes ever so slowly more faint, and never quits abruptly. It is changed only when you, the writer, can no longer read it. Only when you say it’s done. (Ribbons for mainstream vintage machines are still available from many sources, including Amazon, for about eight bucks a ribbon for a few hundred pages; reasonable compared to a sixty dollar printer ink cartridge.)

    If I send you a letter hand-written, you may not be able to read my penmanship, my curse since childhood. If I email you, you will read it quickly and it will go to your “dead email” file and someday be purged. If I hand or mail you or a typed note, with the quirky dropped “k”s and unique font of my own Royal, you will study it and read it–twice, maybe even three times–and you will think about it. You may or may not save it, but you will at least think about it. That is all I can ask as a writer.

  16. I’m glad I stumbled onto your site. I look forward to hearing about your trip, and seeing photos, of the typewriter shop. Fun stuff. Happy October, StrikeThru. 🙂

  17. Love the site. It covers many of my core passions: typewriters, bookmaking, and self publishing. Looking forward to more posts. I’m currently figuring out how to make a “hardcover” book of 60 of my poems. Not sure how it will all work out, but…

    How was the typewriter shop?

    Bill Keys

  18. Working on arranging a Bay Area type-in for December 27. Shoot me an e-mail ( if you’re available!

  19. LOVE your word. Finally catching up on a few things, and you were at the top. See me smile!! Enjoyed reading comments to this post. I, too, swoon over snail mail w/fountain pens, typewriters (although in SFL, typewriter shops = looking for a needle in a haystack)––anything/everything writer’s tools. A year ago, I became a beekeeper so it’d be tight squeeze to find a “snail mail social” in my neck of the woods, but I suspect I’d SQUEEZE it in because I love snail mail.
    Thanks for following my blog, Flying Pages. I hope I can keep you as entertained as you are bound to keep me.