As It Happens

Why this 'artisanal pencil sharpener' won't be buying Apple's new pencil

Many people were quick to make fun of the product online, including writer and humourist David Rees, the world's only 'artisanal pencil sharpener' and the author of How to Sharpen Pencils.
The new Apple Pencil, left, was unveiled during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, Sept. 9, 2015. Artisnal penscil sharpener David Rees, right, won't be buying one. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters, Meredith Heuer)

This story was published on Sept 10, 2015.

The late Steve Jobs famously said, "Who wants a stylus? You have to get them, put them away. You lose them. Yuck."

That was 2007.

This week, Apple unveiled one of its new products. You guessed it: a stylus. It's a pen-shaped instrument that can be used with the iPad. It's called the Apple Pencil and it's set to be released in November at a cost of $99 US.

Many people were quick to make fun of the product online — including writer and humourist David Rees. You see, he's old school. He's the world's only "artisanal pencil sharpener" and the author of How to Sharpen Pencils.

"My brother texted me and just said 'Apple Pencil.' I thought he was trying to make me upset," he tells As it Happens host Carol Off. 

"I went on the internet and saw that Apple had introduced some kind of new fancy pencil. … Everyone was going crazy about it because it's a product made by Apple, which means by law that everyone has to fall to their knees and worship it unquestionably."

Rees soon went to Twitter to vent his frustrations. His tweets have since been shared by hundreds of people. One of them reads: "I own the pencil space. Step back Apple unless you want a full-on war."

"I got a little defensive of the value of good old-fashioned wooden pencils, which I believe are as well-designed and ingeniously engineered as anything that Apple has ever made," he said.

"I would prefer, and you can send this directly to whoever runs Apple these days, that they not use the word 'pencil' to describe their product ... because they are reappropriating and demeaning a known object that deserved to be celebrated on its own terms."

What's more, he says Apple just kind  of gives him "the creeps." 

"I feel like anyone who livestreams an Apple product announcement should probably be put in jail," he said. 

Rees has been sharpening pencils professionally for five years. Business, however, has been down lately.

"There's been a catastrophic collapse in the market that pre-dates Apple's announcement. I think after the initial wave of curiosity and media attention, business ground — not to a halt — but to a limp."

No matter what, Rees doesn't see himself converting to the Apple Pencil.

"If want to doodle or something I have about 20,000 half-sharpened pencils lying around my house," he said.