My Instagram feed started as a family album for me. I posted photos of Stella reading her first book and Jasper writing his first computer program not for your enjoyment, but because if I were to squirrel away the photos of these moments I’d have a hard time finding them again later. I never was good at scrapbooking or journaling, but the visual nature of Instagram has worked well for me.

I was coding a website earlier today when I needed a break. As I walked around the building, I pulled up the Instagram feed and saw this interesting post from St. Brigid Press:

Stimulating writing and thinking from @gaspereaupress ‘s Andrew Steeves in this piece for The Devil’s Artisan Journal.

A post shared by St Brigid Press (@stbrigidpress) on

The thought hurt. This Instagram is not being a cozy family album anymore. Despite all the years printing (and coding), letterpress hasn’t come so far from the imminent extinction threat that existed at Boxcar Press’s founding. 18 years later, we’re still worrying about the equipment being locked up, unused, dusty, and relegated to a museum?

In 1998 I was worried the presses would be junked as scrap metal. I suppose in 2017, the greater concern is that the presses have become so precious that they’re simply hard to acquire. They’re locked away and inaccessible to young entrepreneurs. I’m seeing signs that there are fewer new students of letterpress: signups at our sites are slightly down, letterpress classes at book arts centers are running fewer sessions, memberships in trade organizations appear to be stagnating.

I didn’t realize at the time that Andrew Steeves penned this comment four years ago, but I shot off a half-intelligible comment as if he wrote it this week (and needed an immediate response): “@gaspereaupress Swing by [the next] time you’re feeling that way :)”

Yes, our presses are in running steadily in the new year, flush with invitation orders. And yes, my knee-jerk comment sounds confident and bold. But the business and brashness can’t hide the fact: Andrew’s concern is as well founded in 2017 as in 2013 as in 1998. If the industry lacks a steady stream of entrepreneurs to keep letterpress commercially relevant, we should all be concerned.