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Ann Arbor Bookstore Continues Popular Typewriter Community Voice Online During Pandemic

Jun 2, 2020

"Notes from a Public Typewriter"
Credit publictypewriter.com

It's been nearly three months since Ann Arbor's Literati Bookstore closed its doors, due to concerns over our current global health crisis.  WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with store owner Mike Gustafson about how they've adjusted and what they have done with their popular "public typewriter" during this time we have been urged to stay home and most busineses were closed to in-person customers.


Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor.
Credit Mike Gustafson

Literati Bookstore owner Mike Gustafson says, "Everyone of us has a note to leave behind."  He's referring to their popular public typewriter that was in the front of their Ann Arbor store and from which thousands of notes were left and some shared in a book which was popular around the world.  Now that the store is closed to the public because of the pandemic, they have set up an online typewriter, publictypewriter.com, where people can still leave anonymous messages written in a typewriter format with no deletes or backspaces. 

Literati Bookstore owner Mike Gustafson
Credit Mike Gustafson

Gustafson says "when [he] lamented the situation to Oliver Uberti, co-editor of [their] book Notes from a Public Typewriter," he said, “I have an idea.”  He called up his brother Justin, a software engineer at Google, and a few weeks later, voila!—a virtual typewriter complete with clicks, clacks, and a carriage return!  He says they have received 800 submsssions in only a few weeks.

They have also converted book sales and public events to an online space, which can all be accessed from their website, https://www.literatibookstore.com

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu