Book plan – please comment

by | Jan 2, 2013 | Book, Insurgency | 43 comments

Update: My book, now titled The Typewriter Revolution, is a reality! Visit typewriterrevolution.com for information and purchasing links. Sincere thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way. —Richard


  1. schrijfmachine

    Wow, that's very complete! I've tried to come up with something you didn't mention yet, but I failed. This would be a very interesting book and I would be more than happy to collaborate in any way.

  2. notagain

    That *is* very complete! I would only add a bit about forms/envelopes/lists as mine get used for them frequently, and I'm sure several of those chapters will address the useful life measrued in decades, going on a century now for some, as compared with the mayfly lifespans of gadgets.
    Let me know if you need any material from me.

  3. Jasper Lindell

    It looks as though there aren't any big holes. I'd make sure that the maintenance chapter is big, especially a repair guide. And in the chapter "Writers at Work" maybe we could have a description of the old fashioned standard manuscript format (one inch margins, double spaced etc).
    If I can do anything more useful for this book than make unsolicited suggestions, please let me know.

  4. Jasper Lindell

    And, another thing: If you could get permission from Jack Zylkin, in the section on the USB typewriter, perhaps you could have the complete schematic with PCB layout, source code and installation instructions. That would certainly be helpful.

  5. Miguel Chávez

    How about adding an appendix with the directory of repair shops, parts stores and blogs? Could come in handy for someone just considering to buy his/her first typewriter (I still shudder when I remember when I didn't know the shop I bring my machines to, and was seriously thinking on "fixing" my Studio 46 myself!)

    Also, will you consider mentioning some of the electrics? Maybe they are not as collectible as the older mechanics and they might not be worth of a dedicated chapter, but maybe another appendix? I've found that my Selectrics (and the typebar electrics I own) are built like thanks and can still be used productively today (I have "Igor", my first Selectric II, working happily every day in my shop, filling forms and making labels and such). And also I've found that they have their own following, their own strenghts and weaknesses. Maybe it could be useful to some readers to know what to expect from those machines.

    Perhaps another appendix on how we were supposed to use our typewriters to produce texts back in the day? You know: what the tabulator is for, how to use it, how to make superindexes, subindexes, the usual conventions on text formatting, perhaps some tricks to make fancy things like justifying text, centering titles, producing bold lines, etc.

    Aside from that, I can't think on anything else to add. This will be a very interesting book, indeed!

    I join the crowd: if there's anything I could do to help, count me in.

  6. Jason

    I'm EXTREMELY interesting in the Typewriters and Anarchism section. I've written papers for my graduate degree regarding the correlation between Anarchism and Open Source Software so, of course, I'd be interested to hear what you have to say regarding typewriters.

    I have a library science degree, so, if you need a research assistant…. ;-)

  7. Joe V

    I'd like to see mentioned typing on alternative surfaces like crayon-coated paper or aluminum foil (circa 2008 Typosphere).

    Also, how about classic era typewriter usage like formatting business and personal correspondence, and using carbon paper. Many of these things like formatting are just assumed to be part of MS Word, but are rarely taught in schools anymore.

  8. teeritz

    Very in-depth list of contents, Richard! I'm wondering if there should be mention of the pitfalls and cons of typewriter ownership. Given that using them requires a little more discipline than just booting up a computer, these machines are not for the faint-hearted. But again, very thorough, especially the "Pimp my write" chapter.

  9. Ted

    Bravo! That outline seems to cover just about everything. I keep thinking that the era of $5 thrift store typewriters is over, just to find I'm still wrong – but if this book takes off, it may just put the final nail in the lid of that coffin. :D

    Of course, If you need an article that you think I'd be able to write with any actual expertise, just ask – as long as you accept typewritten manuscripts, of course!

  10. Ryan Adney

    Worthy work. It would be fun to make it something like samizdat and have hand-typed copies passed around from collector and reader to collector and reader. I love it! Like Ted said, if you need any contributions or readers, count me in!

  11. Vikram

    This is an awesome project!

    Perhaps a small section on typewriting on airplanes could be added.
    Other than that, I think this list is complete, along with the comments above.

    Thanks for this! If I can contribute in any way, as a teenage typospherian, I'd love to!

  12. Anonymous

    I'd line up overnight for this book!
    How about a section called "Psychological Aspects of TW Collecting Syndrome"?

  13. rn

    Great work, Richard. It's gonna be an inspiring volume!

    Some thoughts:

    Though this would probably cut through a number of the chapters, I wonder if you might want to include a specific section on the pursuit of the perfect machine: just what is it that constitutes great touch and feel? Does aesthetics enter into it, or is it simply when mechanics meets kinetics?

    I'm sure you're covering this in the history section, but a look at when typewriters became mass produced items, and then high-design objects — Marcelo Nizzoli, Ettore Sotssass, etc. And a look at how Royal saw the women's market as one of its logical niches. Come to think of it, the social history of typewriters might merit its own section.

    Another interesting chapter might include stories of how people find their way to their typewriters.

    I'd also suggest that, if you want to draw interest from agents/publishers, you might want to spell out more specifics in your proposal. For instance, the various keyboards and why they were developed. And perhaps some specifics on how writers were influenced by typewriters– don marquis and archy and the lack of capital letters. e.e. cummings and the art of shaping poems with a typewriter …. Kerouac and his scroll. And artists who found the mechanical marvels inspiring — William Kentridge's great typewriter canvasses and Ed Ruscha's 'Royal Road Test' come to mind.



    PS Thanks for including direct action flaneurs!

  14. Bill M

    I cannot wait to read it in its entirety!

  15. Tom Furrier

    What an awesome idea for a book. Sounds like a real crowd pleaser!. I'm glad to see a section on kids and typewriters. You might expand on that a bit. Why a generation raised with digital technology is attracted to typewriters. Let us know if you need us to send in some personal anecdotes and stories. Good luck! Happy New Year!!

  16. Fer Andrade

    Good idea!! Index are all themes that would read in a book on typewriters now.

  17. Ton S.

    Yay, looks very promising. I'll email my thoughts.

  18. shordzi

    Wonderful start! Remarks: I think the typosphere part in chapter 8 should be upgraded to have its own chapter, resp. the current chapter 8 contain typosphere in its heading. I would also shift it up, say before the current chapter 6.
    The "collecting typewriters" part should cover the existing conventional typewriter associations, but I suppose this is planned anyway. As a lawyer, I could propose a devil's advocate chapter on why the typewriter insurgency must be stopped.

  19. deek

    I think you have things already covered like dating/serial number info as well as finding/maintaining ribbons. I also find it interesting to read about typewriters used by well-known writers.

    All in all, I think you've got a nice broad stroke over typewriters and their relations.

  20. Jasper Lindell

    Another thought: a written history of the Typosphere? That might be a good addition for this might volume.

  21. Ping A

    Hope this takes off. Can't wait . . .

  22. Richard P

    Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!

    Any further thoughts can still be posted here; any comment, at any time, will reach me.

    I'll keep the typosphere informed on the progress of this project.

  23. Mark

    This is fantastic. I want to read it. I want a signed copy. Heck, I want to write part of it!

  24. Fabian Neidhardt

    Love the idea. And I can imagine to translate the book into german. Maybe together with other german speakers from the typosphere.

  25. Richard P

    Eine ausgezeichnete Idee, danke!

  26. Anonymous

    Oh my goodness.
    Epic of epics!
    I'd love to see…
    This book in my hand, and read all week long. :D
    Can't wait!!!

  27. Anonymous

    I agree on the chapter on how we were supposed to use our typewriters for text formatting. Put some secretarial tips in there!

  28. Anonymous

    "You start with one, and suddenly you have hundred!"

  29. Anonymous

    Oh, just thought about it. Maybe you should also add "How to pack a typewriter for transport" to it?

  30. - a typebarhead

    Wow, this is quite an ambitious undertaking, but I like and support it. I also like all the comments and it made me think of some other things which I'm not sure if it fits into the book but here are my two cents:
    the sociological effects of typewriters -a) how it increased a women's workforce and aided women's financial independence because most jobs women could get were secretarial in 30s-50s. I think Mad Men even commented on this. b) Death of the machine and the rise of communities, collectors to typospherians.
    I also like Shordzi's counter-insurgency idea: Is using a typewriter an act of rebellion or is it an act of individualism? Is an act of individualism de facto rebellious or an expression of freedom?? ( Oh no, you're making me think!!! : )

    Best of luck and keep us updated. If no publisher, kickstarter this puppy!

  31. Unknown

    I would like a copy of such book for sure. Can't wait to find it for sale.

  32. Anonymous

    This book sounds wonderful, Richard. I hope it is progressing well. I am personally very much looking forward to the "Writers at Work" section. Even in the form of headings, what you've laid out has been very educational. This is the first time I've seen the terms "slow communication manifesto" and "digital detox." It's led to some excellent reading. Thank you.

  33. Jim Pennington

    inspiring in its scope.. no key left un-struck.
    when I read your Plan, I realised there is more to my typewriters than just loving and using them.
    Mimeo and stencil use is a bit extraneous but if you want to include something and I can make an input, it would be a privelege to be able to contribute…

  34. Don Lampert

    Yes, something on mimeo, and stencils – because that's the way the single typed copy (or a few carbons) became the many/mass word put out there for all to read! I have a late 1920's AB Dick # 78 mimeograph machine that I'm dying to get operational again. It's taking a bit of research to learn how it functions, where to get ink and fresh stencils, etc, but it'll be a joy to see it turning out multiple printed pages.
    Wouldn't it be something if your book was hand typed on stencils, hand printed, and hand bound in beautiful binding, then signed and numbered! You, we, it, would be living the Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto itself!
    "Putting it's money where it's mouth is" – wow, how exciting!! Of course it would take many of us to make that happen, but isn't that all part of the movement too?

  35. TonysVision

    Stop reading these comments, Richard, and get to work!

    But if you've gotten this far, please don't skimp on the use of typewriters for correspondence and the art of the letter an important part of the insurgency as an alternative to Facebook and its ilk.A typewritten letter:

    — Causes the recipient to take notice due to its uniqueness,
    — Provides the typewriter collector/user with the pleasure of creating a cleanly-formatted typewritten document,
    — Provides a means of expanding communication, which in some cases can be deeper than that achieved face-to-face,
    — Can form the basis of a "decorated letter", a delightful art form,
    — Helps the creator improve his/her writing ability,
    — And just gives us the opportunity to play with our typewriters.

    And there you have an outline for an entire chapter!

  36. Anonymous

    Looks great! I'll be sure to pick up a copy when it comes out.

  37. Anonymous

    Hey, any news on the progress of this fine project? :-)

  38. Richard P

    As of now, the book is essentially complete and I'm working with an agent to find the right publisher. I'll keep everyone posted on further developments.


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