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Pat Conroy and the e-book future


In this undated publicity image released by Open Road Integrated Media, author Pat Conroy is shown at his home in Fripp Island, S.C. (AP Photo/Open Ro AP – In this undated publicity image released by Open Road Integrated Media, author Pat Conroy is shown at …

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer Hillel Italie, Ap National Writer NEW YORK – Pat Conroy says he knows so little about e-books that he didn't realize his work could be downloaded until a fan showed him during a recent promotional tour.

"I was at a signing in Georgia, and a guy came up to me with a Kindle and he pressed a button and there it was, my book (`South of Broad')," Conroy said during a recent telephone interview. "I'm a complete ignoramus when it comes to everything about the Internet. I kept noticing people in planes and shops were reading these things. I couldn't understand these instruments. I didn't know what they were."

Among the country's most beloved writers, the 64-year-old Conroy hasn't allowed his distance from the digital world to keep him from joining it. Much of his work is available electronically and four of his older books, including "The Prince of Tides" and "The Great Santini," are coming out this month — starting Tuesday — through Open Road Integrated Media, a digital company co-founded a year ago by former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman and film producer Jeff Sharp.

The books were finished long ago, but Conroy still had to work for the e-releases. Open Road sent a film crew to the author's home on Fripp Island, S.C., where he underwent what he calls the most in-depth interview of his life, "the hardest questions and most intimate questions." Interview highlights about the books themselves will be included at the beginning of a given work. Interviews about his life in general will appear at the end.

"They spent all this time with me and they have not irritated me yet," he said with a laugh.