Random analog pursuits
Welp, the image that used to be here is lost. So who knows what this post was about?
Powell’s announces layoffsAbout the Typewriter Collector’s Alliance on FacebookNews article about this weekend’s Snohomish type-in
Regarding book stores. There’s a B&N within walking distance of our new home. I gave my wife a Nook for Christmas because I knew we’d be so close to one of their stores and there are certain benefits to connecting it to the store’s WiFi. So we went in the other day and I was completely underwhelmed. Unlike the B&N I frequented 20 years ago, there were no comfy chairs scattered throughout the store. The only places to sit were hard chairs by the coffee bar. The kid section was huge, as were the “self help” stacks. The literature shelves took up less space than the flipping romance novels. And they were blaring 80s pop music. There aren’t any independents around here, and if this is the state of the remaining book stores, let ’em die.
Happily here in San Francisco we have a number of wonderful independent bookshops but they struggle. I think they get more support here though. I’d love to have another typewriter but I don’t seem to see any for sale in thrift shops….where does everyone buy them? ebay seems expensive…
I was talking with someone online recently who made a joke about “Nook assault stations,” you know, the Nook kiosk right at the front of B&N. That made me laugh. What makes me sad about B&N is all the floor space devoted to toys now, and like you mentioned, the removal of chairs. As I said in a thread somewhere else, B&N reminds me of the dying days of Tower Records, when gradually all of the floor space in the store that once held music was turned over to big metal racks of knicknacks and gifts.
Hmm, Pamela, finding an affordable typewriter is kind of just a luck of the draw kind of thing. Some machines on ebay are very decently priced if no one else drives up the bids at the last minute, but its a lot of work to find those machines. A lot of people might suggest thrift stores to you, but here in Seattle I have literally never found a single manual typewriter in a thrift store, ever (although I found several when I went to Arkansas). My theory is that if you live somewhere with an identifiable population of ironic hipsters, they’ve beat you to the punch (being in SF, that’s probably the case for you!)
Have you tried Freecycle? I got two great manual typewriters that way, for free!
Though I’d much rather spend my time in a cozy independent bookstore with overflow books stacked here and there and creaky wooden floorboards, I recognize how lucky Rochester is to have a unique B&N. Here, they converted the 1930s Chateau Theater–which is on the Historic Register–and managed to keep much of the original decor and atmosphere. The faux castle ramparts that once flanked the stage are still there, and you can look up and still see the twinkling “stars” of oodles of tiny light bulbs embedded in the dark blue, arched ceiling.
I am disturbed by the crisis in books and bookstores, the triumph of the disposable, and the decline of handwork. You’re right, a tiny revolution is what we need, or many of them — microrevolutions in our own lives and within the digital paradigm.
My approach to typewriter evangelism (that would be my typostolate) is to just get out there in public gathering places, writer’s forums, social-get-togethers, retreat houses, and lunch places- and simply be about the business of writing.
Like Tom Furrier says, “all it takes is a reminder.” And that’s just it. People see how practical and instantaneous and portably efficient typewriters are- combined with the charm of the mechanisms, and ideas are born- such that more folks go looking for their own typewriters. I’ve given away more machines than I can count (and make all recipients take the non-keychop oath). We just have to all get out and inspire, and thus we become inspired by others, too!
Can I get a witness!
Increasingly, I am getting classes in which at least three or four students out of about twenty do not know where the university library is—and most of them are in their sophomore year! They have never once visited it and are helpless when asked to read books on reserve. They order their textbooks online and never go to the university bookstore, either, which is run by B&N, by the way, and which has a paltry selection of literature despite its location on a major university campus. (The independent shops that once served the university community have all vanished.) Many of these students come to class with their iPod earphones plugged in, and they do not unplug themselves until the very last minute, when I start speaking. The second that class is over, instead of talking to their colleagues, they plug in the earphones again…Their fundamental indifference to ideas, to the world, and to each other is depressing. And yet, and yet! I have managed to interest one student in typewriters, and she has promptly accumulated three. She now swears that the creative process is that much richer for her, with fewer internet distractions.
Amidst the notes of despair, I am picking up another subtext. How many of us typospherians work in academia? We may seem to be stick-in-the-mud luddites, waxing poetic about real bookstores and tactile writing machines, but it is because our educated position allows us the perspective to see how off course modern society has drifted. The good news is that so many of us _are_ educators; we have the ability to inform (and perhaps indoctrinate) these mushy-headed youths.
So, yeah. Viva la Revolution, fellow patriots.
Speculator – Amen, brother, amen!
Man, Strikethru, this post touches on so many concerns – lay-offs at the almighty Powell’s, your favorite sewing store closing, the take-over of electronic this and that, hoarding typewriters…
I absolutely refuse to even consider an e-reader. That may make no difference in the end when there are no more books being printed but that’s where I stand.
In the same vain as the sewing store, the Mrs. and I tried to go to Paperzone in Everett yesterday to get cool stationery for the type-in. It is closed, gone, done. There is not even another nearby as far as I know. It has been there forever and now it’s gone. We had to go to OfficeDepot and it was not nearly as fun.
With hoarding typewriters, I think for me it is more about preserving them. I wrote a letter recently talking about this and how I would gladly turn over a machine to a new convert or a fellow typospherian but I won’t just sell them off to whomever any more. It has to be someone who pledges, like Speculator said, to not chop keys and I will make him or her also pledge to use the thing with regularity.
I hope that the digital age can live along side the analog and not just merely blot it out. Hopefully great places like Powell’s can recover and people will start realizing digital is not always -or even often- better for some things.
Wow, that Rochester B&N is amazing! Ours doesn’t look, uh, quite that good, a major understatement.
“typostolate!” Might be time to create a typopedia to track all of these terms…
The responses here are starting to give me some ideas about an, I don’t know, mission statement of some kind. A crazy idea?
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