Gatekeepers, Ditto Machines & Me
Here’s a factoid that will date me for sure: I published my first zine — which was known in those days as an underground newspaper– when I was twelve years old. I did it on a ditto machine.
Back then there were no desktop copy machines, no Kinkos, and making copies of anything was a challenge for anyone without a printing press. You could use carbon paper when you typed, which meant you got two or three copies at a time, or you could somehow gain access to ditto forms and a ditto machine.
If you could slip into the supply closet at school, say, and grab a handful of forms — inked sheets that smelled of chemicals and possibilities — you could type them up (or hand-write them) in the privacy of your home. Then, if you could get to the ditto machine in the front office at school, you slipped your inked form onto a cylinder that rotated as you ran sheets of blank paper beneath it. It left impressions for as long as the ink lasted, and that was your print run.
Yeah. I’m a fossil, people. Let’s move along.
At my 20 year high school reunion (quite a while ago, yo) a childhood friend reminded me of my attempts to distribute my underground paper to my classmates without going through proper channels. I remember setting copies in strategic locations around the school with the principal hot on my heels, gathering them up as quickly as I set them down.
I’ve long had a problem with gatekeepers. I think I’ve been waiting my whole life for the publishing revolution that’s underway.
Anyway, that’s a long way around to telling you what a sweet thrill it was to get the email from Amazon yesterday, letting me know that the Kindle edition of 101 Reasons Why I’m an Unschooler was live on the Amazon site. And later on, another one telling me that the proof copy of the print edition had shipped.
The Kindle version is a $2.99 instant download for anyone with a Kindle or Kindle app. (You can get a free app for your pc or mac or phone or ipad here.) The print version will be available for $11.95, probably by the end of the month, assuming I haven’t made too much of a mess of it.
No, they don’t have that heady ditto-paper smell. (If you’re of the post-ditto era, you’ll just have to trust me. Waaay better than new-car smell. It actually got you a little high.) But you don’t have to run from the principal to read it, either.