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Bob Stein, Intellectual

"I’m never not the oldest person in the place that I am, and I think that’s what’s behind my evolution."

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What do you do, exactly?
I’m the director of the Institute for the Future of the Book. It’s a little think tank that tries to understand (and hopefully influence) the ways in which intellectual discourse is changing as it moves off the printed page.

How is it changing?
We don’t know for sure, but we do know that it’s moving away from its current physical form—the book is a vehicle that humans use to move ideas around in time and space. That vehicle is no longer going to be the printed page.

How long has this institute existed?
About three years. I was a founder of something called the Criterion Collection before that, which was a collection of classic and important contemporary films.

Where is the institute?
Williamsburg, right here on North 7th. I like being in a place where there’s energy on the streets that you can’t find on the Upper East Side or the Upper West Side or, frankly, in Park Slope. I love the industrial grittiness, the mix of commercial with noncommercial, and working class with non–working class.

Do you think you dress like an intellectual?
I think we—my girlfriend and I—have an evolved personal style that’s not about dressing like we’re 20 but not looking 60 either. We live in such a horribly segregated society, agewise. I’m never not the oldest person in the place that I am, and I think that’s what’s behind my evolution.

Then tell me about your outfit.
I got the leather hat at Agnès B. and bespoke Thai pants in worsted wool from the Design Room here in Williamsburg. The black shirt is from Barneys. There’s a garage where artists sell their stuff on the weekends; this guy gets jackets from the thrift shop and stencils them with stuff. It’s perfect. I like it so much that I asked him if I could bring him more jackets to stencil and he said no, which I really respected.


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