Matchbook Bias

As a published author and member of CWA, I was able to sell my book, Pocket Money, at the Chicago Printer’s Row Lit Fest.

















Because Pocket Money takes place in 1992, a time before time, eons ago, when it was quite common for businesses to give out personalized matchbooks, I thought they’d make appropriate swag.

Reminisce responsibly.









I was really surprised at the diverse reactions I received when I offered people matchbooks.
First of all, I am not a smoker. Never have been. Not even in 1992.
But I remember grabbing matchbooks from the counter, bar, or basket on my way out. It was a souvenir, a collectible, proof of a great night out, or scratch paper as needed.








Many people smiled and reminisced about those days.
“I don’t smoke any more,” one guy said. Then added, “But I don’t smoke any less, either.”

Sometimes I would say, “I’m not advocating smoking or arson, just promoting a good book.”

Most folks laughed, took a pack, moved on.

But some people…
seemed offended!
One woman reached out her hand and when the word “matchbook” came out of my mouth, she rescinded, tucking her hands up, turning away, and looking at me as if I’d burned her.

When those who seemed disturbed by the matchbooks ultimately told me, “I don’t smoke!”
I would come back with, “But–you’re going to have a birthday this year, right? Gotta light those candles with something.”*

Some realized the innocuous nature of the freebie and helped themselves.
Others did not.

People can be so interesting!

Despite wind and grit and heat and matchbook haters, being part of Lit Fest was a great experience. I sold several books and made some fabulous connections and I may never look at matchbooks the same way.


*I didn’t say it, but it also crossed my mind that in addition to lighting birthday candles, you may need matches because it’s frickin’ tick season!

About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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3 Responses to Matchbook Bias

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