The geography of American mechanographomania

by | Sep 11, 2016 | Book | 13 comments

Through Amazon, I have access to some partial data on the market for my book. Its sales are nothing to write home about by commercial standards, although they would be strong for an academic book. The Typewriter Revolution is usually ranked in Amazon’s top 100,000 titles, which I suppose is all right out of millions.

More interesting is the above map showing how the book has sold in the US. Presumably, sales of this book should line up pretty well with the amount of interest there is in typewriters in an area.

The map holds a few surprises:

Portland, Oregon, where I stayed for two weeks in summer 2015, gives the impression of having a high typewriter-to-person ratio, but sales have not been fabulous there.

Denver has been much stronger, even though I am aware of only a couple of collectors there.

Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, has also been an excellent market, surely thanks to Tampa Type, a project of stationery shop The Paper Seahorse. Stationers and typewriters are a great combination; recently I’ve been working with the owner of a paper shop in Columbus, Ohio who is starting to sell typewriters.

The book is also doing well in Washington, DC, where nearly as many copies have sold as in New York.

My publisher hoped that The Typewriter Revolution would be a surprise hit, but the surprise did not come to pass, despite a great run of interviews and book signings. It may get a little boost from the film California Typewriter. My hope is that word of mouth will keep it going, and it will eventually become a classic for all participants in the necessarily-small typewriter insurgency. Once you give up unrealistic dreams of fame, there is something very satisfying about being able to provide fuel to a rebellion that smolders silently, individually, out of the digital limelight—but which, I believe, has real benefits for its participants and, indirectly, for the larger culture.


  1. Ted

    It's a slow burn, but a strong one. (:
    Look how far we've come in 5 years – this past year may have been disappointing, but it'll tick up again.

  2. Will Davis

    I have the idea that this book will become more and more sought after the longer time goes on, so that perhaps it's eventually viewed as is Mares' work — that is to say, a crystal clear snapshot of a part of time, preserved perfectly so that future generations can look back almost as if they were there.

  3. x over it

    Maps and typewriters combined? Excellent!

    From what I can tell (not having a legend for the colors other than assuming darker is more) sales in Portland and Seattle are better than just about any other cities their size—being in the same category as Houston and Chicago is quite impressive!

  4. Richard P

    Thanks. I like that thought!

  5. TomR

    Now that's one funky map. Those square boundaries are wandering all over the place. Denver looks like it stretches from Pueblo CO to Cody Wyoming. Nevertheless, I guess one can intuit cities and states (sort of). Regardless of whether of not Amazon's data engineers are on LSD, the book is a great resource and occupies a treasured spot on my bookshelf. It's a great resource.

  6. Richard P

    Thanks! I don't know who decided to draw the boundaries like this, or why.

  7. Richard P

    No, I only have US data.

  8. Bill M

    The map makes it difficult to match geographic boundaries. Any case I hope the book becomes a major seller.

  9. Mark

    I think your book will enjoy steady sales as it spreads word of mouth and as more people "discover" typewriters.
    As to dreams of fame: You're already famous in a small but widespread circle. When JP and I met you we felt just a little star struck, of course now you're a friend. Believe it or not I once sold a typewriter to a fellow to had done some research to make sure he got the right one. I told him collectors are all networked and he actually asked if I knew Richard Polt and was very impressed when I said yes!

  10. Brian

    Bought my copy awhile back… but in also in Portland, so…..

  11. Richard P

    Thanks, I hope you've enjoyed the book.


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