Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Rock Under Which We Live

"We prefer the smell, feel, and look of real paper...And 'Friends' reruns."

Yesterday was a banner day for running into people asking me where they can find my new books. I've decided to categorize these kinds of folks and create a blog around them for your viewing/reading entertainment. So here goes:


This guy married rich, likes his clothes, sells real estate, smokes but doesn't consider himself a smoker, drives one of those enormous SUVs that cost more than his boat to fill up, and he pastes stickers on the back windshield so that everyone who tailgates knows he spends time in Cape Cod or Martha's Vinyard or somewhere like of those old friends who sort of used to be a really cool best friend, but who became more like someone your dad would hang out with once he got married and took up residence in a suburban McMansion.

I spot him outside a coffee shop and through the rolled down window of his SUV he smiles a Pepsident smile and says, "I went to Borders to find Concrete Pearl. And it wasn't there."

Well, first of all old friend, Borders is caput. Done. Dead. Gone. Liquified...And even if they were alive and still thriving, Pearl wouldn't be there yet since it's out in E-Book first, and later in trade paper.

He responds with, Well, I tried to download the Sony version to my iPhone.

Ok, fair enough there, but we (meaning my pub, StoneHouse/StoneGate) avoid Sony like the plague since they indiscriminately drop the prices on their books. How about a Kindle.

He tells me, he doesn't have a Kindle.

I tell him, you can download a Kindle reader for free to your computer or Smartphone.

He shakes his head.

I say, Tell you what, I'll email you the galley for free.

He tells me he's not trying to be be cheap.

Huh? Where did that come from?

Finally, I just shrug my shoulders.

Now this dude is perfectly aware that I've sold hundreds of thousands of EBooks of The Remains, The Innocent, Moonlight Falls, etc, because it's gotten a bunch of press in both local papers and even USA TODAY. But he gives me this look like, My mom always warned me about hanging out with your type. He drives off. I'm glad.


I run into her in my dad's office, where I'm sending out some paper copies of my books to some fans who requested signed copies. She's accounts payable, about 50, married once and divorced, but would like to find another partner soon. Pictures of her kids taped to the wall beside her desk. Sweet but sad, and at times funny and always watching her weight. Likes classic rock and American Idle.

She says, "When can I get a copy of you new books?"

I give her the EBook speech.

I could never do that, she explains. I need to feel the book in my hand, smell the paper, put it on my shelf. I could never read electronic print, because it would hurt my eyes.

Me, shrugging my shoulders. Looks like you're SOL ...

But then she explains how her 20-something daughter bought a Kindle and loves it.

That should tell her something right there.

A call comes in. She takes it. I leave.


Guy's good looking, maybe an engineer but a secret wanna-be rock star. 40-something, lives in the burbs, a couple of kids, defying the odds by still being married to the same girl after 15-plus years. Hard worker. Saves his money. Rarely takes a vacation. A good guy. Kind of guy you like to stop and chat with at the gym, and who you might have played with everyday during your summer vacation if you grew up in the same neighborhood.

But he's also the kind of guy who calls himself, "Old fashioned," even though he listens to the newest alternative music being released every other day. He's on Facebook and Twitter and Myspace, and he knows more about you than you realize so that when you run into him he says, "Jeeze, you've got another book coming out?" It's followed with a giggle and a semi-disbelieving glare.

You try to give him the short of it with the "all my back list books are now being published for the first time, or republished," and he sort of shakes his head. He asks you when they'll be available in paper and you have to go through that speech too. But in order to stress your point you mention how he doesn't buy his music at record shops anymore, or go to the Blockbuster or for that matter, the local Borders.

He smiles, nods, and says, Well looks like you got into the EBook market at the right time.

You nod, smile, and hahahaha...yeah, I know. What the else you gonna say cause you just want to get the hell away from the conversation. You politely tell him you gotta run.

But before you go he says, I hope the good luck lasts.

Thanks for the warning buddy. You know precisely what he means. I hope the EBook "fad" doesn't fade anytime soon and you're back to looking for real work.

I usually finish by telling this kind of person, the fad will end only when it's the end of the world and the power supply is gone and we are back to writing on cave walls. But I'm not sure he would understand this kind of forward thinking.

He's too old fashioned.


  1. This explained so much for me! I must be doing better than I thought as far as getting my name out there because I met all three of these people in my hometown of McEwen TN.

    However, unlike the obviously much more Vincent Zandri I don't shrug my shoulders I role my eyes, just out my hip and once actually hissed.

    Lesson Learned...I might have some impulse control problems.

    I just want to add I read this via my Kindle.

  2. Well said Vin. I would venture to say that everyone who says they prefer the feel and smell of a print book have never curled up with a Kindle or a Nook. Doing that makes you an instant convert. Even more so when you finish one book, realize its still the middle of the day on a lazy Sunday, and thirty seconds later you have purchased and started reading a new book.

  3. Hilarious post, Vincent. These types of readers are prevalent in the marketplace...I used to be one of them until I got a Kindle for Christmas.