Hunting Yesterday: Buying a Paper Book

Hunting Yesterday: Buying a Paper Book

Note: this is a fictional episode of an equally fictional future reality show. It takes place in our future (but hopefully, someone’s past). Each week, contestants are given a challenge to do something the way it was done by earlier generations…

“Eighteen teams have come here to face the challenge of their lives…or should I say, of their parents’ lives. Each week, they find out how it used to be…no modern conveniences, no social networks. Will they fail and be “past over”? Or will they succeed in…Hunting Yesterday?”

Previously…on Hunting Yesterday:

The Junior/Senior Senators from Kamchatka were eliminated during our “Crime Never Payphones” challenge, when it was determined that Senator Nichevo had used a SmartPhone to pay for the call. Newly dating  Carol and Pat fought over the popcorn challenge, but narrowly avoided elimination. Tonight, they face off against our remaining teams: Yo and Tho, genetically identical winners of last year’s M&M America; Danh, a boy deathly allergic to plastic, competing via a uniquely designed telepresence robot…his partner? Burnell, a cybernetically enhanced Bernese Mountain Dog. Finally, our leaders: Chloe, a 123-year old combat yoga instructor, and Pippa, her great-great-great-granddaughter…a fifteen year old lawyer raised on a space station.

Which of them will be “past over”, and which of them will succeed in…Hunting Yesterday?

Warhol, the host: “Okay, hunters. We have a very special challenge for you tonight. Are you ready?”

Teams cheer.

Warhol: “Pat and Carol: this may require you to work together as a team. After what we saw in the popcorn challenge, convince me you can do that.”

Pat: “I’d walk through fire to win this game, Warhol.”

Carol: “Or push somebody into it.”

Pat: “I didn’t push you! I told you before, one of the popcorns hit me in the face and I jumped!”

Warhol: “Yo and Tho, you seem to find that pretty funny.”

Tho (or Yo?): “We’re sorry…we just couldn’t help laughing.”

Pippa: “It looked like a push to me.”

Warhol: “What about you, Danh?”

Danh: “I wasn’t looking that way.”

Burnell: “The popcorn smelled good.”

Warhol: “Chloe, you’re quiet.”

Chloe: “I’m just thinking about tonight’s challenge, Warhol.”

Warhol: “Let’s get to it, then. Read any good books lately? Well, tonight you’ll have to find another one. But you won’t be able to download it…or even read it online. In a challenge we call, “You Can’t See the Novels for the Trees”, you need to buy a book the old-fashioned way. You’ll have to find a store that still sells paperbooks, buy one, and bring it back to Time Plaza. The first team back is guaranteed to see tomorrow. The last one, may be eliminated…and for them, it will be “past over”. Any questions?”

Danh: “If we buy it in a store, can it be a real book?”

Warhol: “No, it has to be a book actually printed on paper.”

Pippa: “Does it matter how we pay for it?”

Warhol: “I’m glad you asked. Since you are buying a paperbook, we are giving you paper money. These ‘bills’ add up to fifty dollars. You’ll pay for the books with that.”

Tho (or Yo?): “Cool! We’ve never seen paper money!”

Pat: “They’ve probably never seen a book, either.”

Yo (or Tho?): “Just because we’re identically attractive doesn’t mean we don’t read.”

Carol: “No…being as stupid as you are means you don’t read.”

Yo and Tho together: “We didn’t almost burn each other up with popcorn!”

Warhol: “Remember, you must buy a paperbook in a store. It has to be sold by the store…you can’t just buy it from somebody shopping there. The hunt for yesterday starts…now!”

Pippa: “G-ma, do you think we should look for a bookstore?”

Chloe: “There aren’t any more bookstores, sweetie. Maybe a drugstore.”

Pippa: “What’s a drugstore?”

Chloe: “A grocery store?”

Pippa: “I think the closest one is in Oregon.”

Chloe: “This may be interesting.”

Burnell: “Where are we going?”

Danh: “I don’t know yet. We’re looking for something.”

Burnell: “What does it smell like?”

Danh: “I don’t know.”

Carol: “I saw a Costco outside of town when we had to do that lawn-moaning  thing.”

Pat: “Costcos don’t sell paperbooks!”

Carol: “Your mother told me they used to.”

Pat: “Don’t talk about my mother!”

Yo and Tho: “Let’s go shopping!”

The teams head out in different directions. Pat and Carol quickly get lost, arguing about where the Costco is. Yo and Tho go to the airport. Pippa and Chloe head for the antique district, and Danh and Burnell follow them.

Chloe: “Let’s try these antique stores…they sometimes have old books.”

Pippa: “But which one? There are a hundred of them.”

Danh: “What do you think, Burnell?”

Burnell: “What does it smell like?”

Danh: “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”

Burnell: “Something smells funny on you.”

Danh: “What? What is it?”

Burnell: “Warhol gave it. It’s a new smell.”

Danh: “What…the money! That’s it, Burnell! It’s paper! The books are paper! Smell it…do you smell more?”

Burnell: “Oh, wow! I smell it…I smell it…over here! This one, this door, let’s go in here! Let’s go! Let’s go!”

Danh: “Excuse me, sir, do you have any books made out of paper?”

Storekeeper: “I think I do…let’s see…calculator…dial phone…buggy whip…gas can…ah, here we go! It’s a romance.”

Danh: “How much?”

Storekeeper: “It’s not in good shape…five hundred dollars.”

Danh: “I have pay for it with these, and I don’t think I have that much.”

Storekeeper: “Are those real? I’ll take ’em in trade!”

Danh: “Deal! Good dog, Burnell!”

Burnell: “Woof!”

Danh: “Let’s get back to Warhol.”

Warhol: “Danh and Burnell, you were the first back with a paperbook. The hunt will continue for you…you have earned another tomorrow. Yo and Tho, Chloe and Pippa, you each bought books: you are safe. Pat and Carol, you were unable to find a paperbook in the allotted time. You have been past over.”

Carol: “That’s okay, Pat. We had a great time, and we have some things to work on…”

Warhol: “So you two are going to make a go of it?”

Pat: “We’ll see where it goes from here, but yes, I’m willing to try.”

Carol: “Pat, you are the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Next week on Hunting Yesterday…the teams have to type a letter on a typewriter…with a carbon copy.

Clip of Yo and Tho: “We should be naturals at this!”

Clip of Pippa: “I’m purple!”

Clip of Burnell: “Woof!”

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


2 Responses to “Hunting Yesterday: Buying a Paper Book”

  1. Roger Knights Says:

    Here, in a similar vein, are a couple of books about once-everyday items that have become obsolete. Neither is in Kindle format, but both are cheap used:

    Going, Going, Gone: Vanishing Americana, at

    Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By, at

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      I appreciate the recommendations. I’ve been kicking around for several years doing something substantial on the topic, but I haven’t yet. Here’s my favorite obsolete technology story (and you know you are a geek if you have a favorite obsolete technology story).

      My kid was young…say, 8. We found a dial telephone…it wasn’t plugged into anything. My kid was pretending to dial a number, and the kid’s finger slipped. My kid looked at me and said, “How do I delete that?”

      I had to think about it for a minute before I said, “You couldn’t delete it…you’d have to start all over.”

      “Start all over?”

      My kid just walked off…it wasn’t worth the effort.

      I thought then, why didn’t we have a delete? Of course, we were usually only dialing seven numbers…and I actually remember thinking of phone numbers as two letters and five numbers (“Pennsylvania 6-5000”). In San Francisco, I believe, the first two letters were Alaskan cities…I don’t know why.

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