A Conversation with Tom Stone, Author of “The Curse of the Minotaur”. Telling an old tale using the newest tech.
My father started working in a bookstore shortly before I was born so I grew up, literally (and literarily), in a bookstore. So many of my childhood memories come from hours spent there. Until I went to college I worked there almost every summer and weekend. By the time I reached my mid-twenties my father owned the store and like many sons I went into the family business. As I neared 40, after working there for most of a my life, I realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of it as a merchant and we sold the store. The prospect of not having it in my life was as terrifying as it was liberating.
During the transition the bookshop set up a few Book & Author luncheons. These annual affairs were sponsored by local Women’s Clubs and we would supply speakers, books and a moderator. Usually the moderator was a staff member who was fluent in that odd jargon of “Women’s Club-ese”, but this time they specifically requested my father come to do the honors. He wasn’t available so the job fell to me. I accepted with reluctance.
I opened with a few family/bookstore anecdotes and then proceeded to introduce each author before they spoke and ended with a few thoughts about the future of the book business. It was during these closing comments when I mentioned the coming of the electronic reader. I don’t think I called it that. I’m not sure what I called it but I told them that though books would still be available, increasingly people would only be buying them as objects or works of art and that our everyday reading would be done on a hand-held electronic/computer reading device. The silence in the room of some 100 women was profound. This was not what they came to hear. This kind of change was not high on their list.
I wasn’t some great oracle sitting upon a tripod–the first generation of e-readers were available in the 1990’s but like many things the concept outpaced the technology so they didn’t become prevalent until the mid 2000’s. But talk in the industry about electronic media had be bandied about long before the first readers hit the marketplace.
Though I’ve been out of the book business for over 20 years now I still love books and authors and reading. There is something wonderful about holding a book in your hands and the feel paper under the tips of your fingers as they scan a page. But the industry is changing. For every book I pick up and read I listen to at least five on CD and read an equal number on my electronic device.
Last year was the first year more music was sold online via download than in a CD format. How long before that’s true of what we read? Not long. Not long at all. If you look at how most people under 30 are accessing their reading material you’ll discover it’s electronically. For that generation and the next and the one after that, electronic books will be as common and as accepted as we accept the pages of a book.
In 2008 Tom Stone’s book, ZEUS: A Journey Through Greece in the Footsteps of a God, was published. When I read it I recognized that Tom had a wonderfully deep grasp of the Greek Gods and mythology and knew I wanted to talk to him on Graffiti. It was a great conversation.
Besides Zeus, Tom has authored many books published in the traditional manner including: The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir, Greece: An Illustrated History, The Greek Food & Drink Book and The Essential Greek Handbook.
With his most recent book, The Curse of the Minotaur, Tom has ventured into the realm of the the e-book.
Check back here for a posting of our conversation that will air on GRAFFITI tonight, June 16, 2011 at 7pm (EDST). WNYE: 91.5fm. Streaming: Gaepis.org