Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sherman Alexie - Luddite or Prophet?

My son directed me to this clip on the Colbert Report. Must See TV for any and all writers. In it, Sherman Alexie talks about the potential impact of digitalization on the publishing industry.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sherman Alexie
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How impressed am I that he refuses to allow his work to be published in electronic format! And how sobering are the points he makes. That so few artists make money off their CD’s or albums any more, and all their income comes from concerts. (At $400 per ticket, how much longer will there be a viable audience for that?) And how depressing that the entire local media and appreciation of books has disappeared. It just shows that there are still a lot more conversations to be had about these issues . . .


Sherrie Petersen said...

Great interview! Thanks for posting it. How ironic that he's decrying electronic media and yet being shared there. But I guess that's part of his point.

PJ Hoover said...

Wow! Thank you so much for posting this, Robin.

Mary Hershey said...

If Anne Lamott doesn't call me for lunch soon, I may start dating Sherman. God, he's fabulous. Thanks, Robin!


Robin L said...

Sherrie, I don't think he's decrying electronic media so much as electronic books which once in electronic format, change the way we read and think about books, which is a huge cultural shift--and not necessarily for the better. I think of that as separate from appearing on TV clips on the internet, or even doing podcasts...

Glad you enjoyed it, PJ!

And Mary, yeah, Sherman is pretty amazing. And brilliant, have I mentioned brilliant?

andalucy said...

That was fun to watch. He makes valid points. He makes me feel so guilty as Kindle owner! I never would have bought it if I had stayed in the U.S. close to libraries and book stores.

The piracy issue is scary, but what concerns me the most as a reader is the disappearance of local book culture. This hasn't happened yet in Minneapolis, but is it only a matter of time?

Caroline said...

Quite a few experiments have shown that giving away free electronic copies of books actually improves sales. :) If you haven't listened to or read Cory Doctorow's thoughts on the subject, you should. It's really interesting stuff.

I also think it's naive to believe that refusing to release digital editions of your work does any good. In less than a minute, I was able to find multiple copies of Mr. Alexie's books on the internet (and I've reported the sites). Ebook pirates actually scan the books when digital copies aren't available.

For me, as a reader, this is an exciting time. Book culture may suffer, but people are actually reading more because of digital content. My 12-year-old son asked for a Kindle for Christmas--and he's always hated reading! My 16-year-old reads ebooks on her iPhone. They're avid for new reading material but they don't want to lug books around. Ebooks are a perfect solution.


Robin L said...

Lucy, you should totally NOT feel guilty about owning a Kindle! I'm not quite as anti-e-book as Alexie and think they can be part of a balanced book diet. :-)

Like you, what I find particularly troubling is the unintended consequences of electronic books--such as the disappearance of local book culture.

Caroline, I have heard about the free copy phenomenon of increasing sales. And like I told Lucy, I think ebooks absolutely fill a valid role for some readers like your kids. I just think that it is smart to pay attention to the unexpected fallout of the move to ebooks and find ways to counteract the holes it leaves behind.

And you are clearly the winner of today's Public Service Award for ferreting out all those illegal copies of Alexie's work!