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Sunday May 26, 2019
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drawing of Notes from a Public Typewriter

Crowd Sourced

Literati publishes its customers' musings.

by Eve Silberman

From the February, 2019 issue

"It's our all-time best seller!" says Michael Gustafson, co-owner of Literati. The bookstore's self-published Notes from a Public Typewriter intrigued customers as soon as it came out last spring--no doubt because some of them were among its anonymous authors.

Since Literati opened five and a half years ago, customers have been tapping out their thoughts on a manual typewriter set up in the store's basement. Gustafson, who owns the store with his wife, Hilary, made the selections for the book.

"I guess middle school will be okay, sort of," someone wrote. Others wax romantic: "I walked in expecting to fall in love with books / not the person / I walked in with." Or mournful romantic: "I sit here this day a bitter and broken / man knowing that the great love of / my life belongs to someone." Others shared refrigerator-magnet counsel: "Next time you are driving / on a bridge or flying on a plane /remember that it was built by the lowest bidder."

The store's logo features a typewriter, and its sign is made of giant typewriter keys. Gustafson traces his fondness for the machines back to visits with his grandfather, who owned a 1930s Smith Corona.

"There's a permanence in writing a letter on a typewriter," he says. He's noticed a surge in typewriter nostalgia since the store opened. Back then, he says, he could buy the manual typewriters (usually at second-hand shops) for about $50. Now they're going for $150.

When a page is filled, it is removed for Gustafson to take home. He has "hundreds of pages. I can't seem to throw them away, so I keep them."     (end of article)

[Originally published in February, 2019.]


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