Vroman’s Bookstore is a Pasadena institution, a literary landmark, and a wonderful old-fashioned bookstore tucked away behind a huge Office Depot. Once you find your parking, you descend a staircase decorated with colorful tiles past buskers who play their instruments. This day, a spry elderly man in jeans and a coat that was in fashion two decades ago played classical music on his oboe, much to the delight of a little girl and her parents that stood enraptured before him. He had a twinkle in his eye as he finished his tune, an expression that turned into a delighted smile when the little girl asked for another song. That smile had more to do with their shared love of music than any dollars that landed in his open instrument case. At the ground floor, a trio of young music students were practicing their violins. They were not busking, but instead taking advantage of the excellent acoustics of the outdoor courtyard. The discordant sound of their practice was a distinct counterpoint to the lovely strains of the oboe on the steps above them.
When you first enter via the double doors of the bookstore, your first impression is one of surprise. Vroman’s Bookstore seems far larger on the inside than what you might guess from the unbroken stucco walls on the outside. The sensation I felt reminded me of how Dr. Who’s companions might feel when they enter the TARDIS for the first time. There are two floors in the bookstore and several departments on each level. On the first floor, there is an area where stationary, fountain pens, ink and other writer’s delights are temptingly displayed. A full case of Filofax binders for sale, along with all the fountain pen friendly paper you might wish for. There is a full gift shop upstairs featuring stickers, scrap booking supplies and artisan styled bags. The rest of the store was filled with paper bound books on stately wooden shelving. However, I was not there to shop, much as I was tempted to do so, I had come to be a guest speaker at the Filofax Extravaganza put together by my friend, Jennifer Reyes. The event was held on January 11, 2014.
In the center of the second floor of the bookstore, there is a large open area that serves as an amphitheater and community center. Many rows of chairs were set up facing a lectern and a table filled with Filofax binders. At the rear of the area was food, bottles of water, and a raffle sponsored by the Filofax Corporation. Several pocket sized Filofax binders were the prizes of the raffle, along with agenda stamps and a few scrap booking items donated by Jennifer.
After checking in with Jennifer in the back, I found my way to a seat to wait for the event to begin. A few people introduced themselves, recognizing me from my blog, No Wasted Ink. As I shook their hands and took the offered business cards, I was rather astounded. It was the first time that I have been recognized as a writer in public and to hear so many positive comments about my blog was heartwarming.
The presentation was moderated by Jennifer Reyes. She spoke about Filofax the company and the history of the binders through the past several decades. Filofax was very popular in the 1980s. I remember that most of my friends had them in college and I was urged to “fit in” by purchasing one myself. This was before electronic PDAs and then later phone apps became popular as agendas. In the last few years, Filofax has been gaining popularity once again as many people are turning off their phones and returning back to paper when it comes to scheduling their lives. She also gave an extensive demo on how she uses washi tape, stamps, and other scrap booking techniques to decorate her Filofax planners.
The first guest speaker was Rebecca Moore Bover. She spoke about her role as an admin for a Filofax group on Facebook called FiloRAKs. As an admin, she has far more duties than simply adding and booting people from the group, she also needs to schedule events. Her Filofax is instrumental in helping her track all of the extra duties she does for the group. Being an admin to a Facebook group is hard work and is often unrewarded. I hope Rebecca knows that her volunteer work is much appreciated.
Next was Karen Massie, a collector of rare and limited edition Filofax binders. She brought her snake Filofax and an A5 purple Malden that she has filled with her personal, teaching and doctoral studies paperwork. Karen’s collection is truly a marvel to see. Many of the rare Filofaxes are more luxurious in person than how they appear on catalog screens via your home computer. Many of the nuances of the leather are simply not captured and it takes seeing the Filofax in your hands before you can appreciate its finer points. Some of Karen’s binders are worth hundreds of dollars. She has much to be proud of in her extensive collection and I hope she can be persuaded to bring them to future Filofax events in the area.
I was the third speaker on deck. Before driving to Vroman’s, I had stuffed my Crimson Personal Malden into a bag and I always carry my Brown Slimline Holborn with me as a wallet. This gave me a few items to display as I spoke. The Malden is what I use to track all the posts and marketing I do on my writing blog, No Wasted Ink. I explained my tracking system and how I interface what I have written in my Filofax with the various online systems I use. The main online systems are: Hootsuite, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I also pulled out my wallet and explained why I like using the slimline Filofax as apposed to using a pocket size.
The final guest speaker was Karine Tovmassian. Karine is spreading the word about how analogue planners such as a Filofax can be superior and more accessable for planning purposes, yet can also interface with the digital parts of our lives. Her company ThinkerExtraordinaire, is helping people all over the nation learn to use their time and energy more efficiently.
After the event, I felt the need for a hot cup of coffee and took the elevator downstairs where a small, somewhat posh coffeehouse is located just off the main street and tucked into a corner of the bookstore. The pastries looked divine and the coffee was smooth. I was lucky enough to find a chair by the window and was able to relax and people watch. There was a foursome playing a game of cards with what appeared to be an aged and weather antique deck along with the usual assortment of laptop and iPad users scattered about.
Visiting Vroman’s Bookstore is a unique experience, even without the Filofax Extravaganza to attend. If you are in the Los Angeles area, it is a literary landmark worth paying a visit. The bookstore is mere blocks away from the freeway and there is plenty of parking in the back. You owe it to yourself to take in the atmosphere of this book lover’s destination.