Proof that History puts people to sleep

Picture: Interior of the Iron Door Saloon, est. 1852; the oldest continuously operating saloon in the state, Groveland, California

I admit my frustration level has been met and exceeded. For nearly a decade working with Galen Rowell, running his stock department, I dealt with clients of every level, including editors at just about every major magazine and ad agency in the country. I prided myself on my professionalism. I know how to present myself. It’s not like I’m some newbie / wannabe whose closest publication credit is posting images on flickr. Even when doing my previous books, whenever I’d call or email someone saying I’m working on such and such project, I’d almost always get a warm, welcoming, and helpful response.

However, with my current book project, the minute I tell people (or they sense) that it’s a history book, they fall asleep. They turn off. They tune out. They switch off their radar. It’s like you suddenly become a non-important entity. In all of my career, I’ve never experienced anything like this. But it’s happened so often, among so many people at so many levels, that I’m now 1000% convinced that it’s purely related to the history aspect. Sure, there are still people that are nice and helpful, or that reply quickly. But so many of people that I’ve been in touch with, or attempted to contact, have either not responded at all, or replied once, and then I couldn’t get anything further out of them. It’s like I asked them to come in and voluntarily have some of their teeth pulled.

I just don’t get it. With some of them I just say “fine” and they’re not in my book. Others I really want to include, but after a half dozen attempts to contact them, I just can’t afford to waste more time chasing windmills.


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8 Comments on “Proof that History puts people to sleep”

  1. Patrick Smith Says:

    It is a sorry state of affairs, but it does reflect what I remember from school, when I’d look across the room in history class and see everyone’s eyes glazed over. Many people have no interest in history, it is just that simple. My advice, don’t do a science book unless you are a glutton for punishment!


  2. Richard Wong Says:

    Like Van Gogh, Ornette Coleman, etc… the general public doesn’t recognize good art until too much time has passed by. Personally this new book of yours, Gary, sounds like the most interesting concept in my opinion. I love California history.

  3. Carl D Says:

    Hey Gary

    This is a fascinating topic .. history just has a way … o … f .. zzzzzzzzzzzz

  4. wil Says:

    Those folks are under 40. Over that, people start to eat it up, don’t you find?

  5. Peter T. Says:

    This is hard for me to relate, because since I was a child I’ve always been a major history buff. I aced all my history related classes and achieved my highest AP score in American History. So I’m at lost why history is such a turn-off to many people.

    Yet, a lot people do enjoy delving into history, including California history. Just look at the popularity of historical sights like Bodie or Columbia State Historic Parks.

    So I’m surprised that you found so many people that have been so apathetic to your book project. Don’t get discourage and keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to your new book.

  6. Alan Majchrowicz Says:

    That’s a real shame. I find history much more fascinating and interesting to read than most of the fiction garbage that line the bookshelves. I think this country would be much better off if people read and actually learned from history.

  7. John Wall Says:

    Did you tell them it’s a history of sex? 😉

  8. Ross Says:

    if we learn history then we’ll stop repeating it. that would mean the end of life as we know it. scary stuff.

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