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Old 06-01-2009, 12:01 PM   #1
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NYT: At Book Expo This Year, the Talk Was of ebooks

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The book publishing industry is notorious for jumping on bandwagons: witness the flood of “Da Vinci Code” knockoffs that clogged tables at the front of bookstores a few years ago, and the stream of novels featuring vampires that are crowding bestseller lists now.

So it should be no surprise that at BookExpo America, the publishing industry’s annual trade convention that ended Sunday in New York, publishers seemed to be putting their own stamps on the increasingly frenzied conversation about electronic books that has hijacked the business.

There were the panels: “Giving It Away: When Free eBooks Make Sense and When They Don’t,” “Red Hot Readers: Market Adoption of Mobile eReading Devices” and “Jumping Off a Cliff: How Publishers Can Succeed Online Where Others Failed.” Tina Brown, rasping with a bad case of laryngitis, kick-started a discussion with the chief executives of four New York publishing houses by asking if they were shocked when Amazon.com began charging $9.99 for e-books — “that paltry, pitiful sum.”

Interead, a British company that introduced its new Cool-er electronic reader the first day of the Expo, sponsored a booth at which two blond women in tankinis handed out nonalcoholic margaritas and more potent piña coladas to a steady stream of conventiongoers who stopped by to watch demonstrations of the new devices. HarperCollins decided mostly to forgo the traditional giveaways of advance paperback editions of forthcoming books, and instead gave out gift cards redeemable for electronic galleys of titles like Neil Gaiman’s “Odd and the Frost Giants” and Mary Karr’s “Lit.”

So far e-books represent 1 to 3 percent of total book sales. But they make up the fastest growing part of the industry, and publishers, authors and booksellers have no idea just how big they will become and how they might affect profits and reading habits in the future.

Inevitably there was a backlash. At a panel of authors speaking mainly to independent booksellers, Sherman Alexie, the National Book Award-winning author of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” said he refused to allow his novels to be made available in digital form. He called the expensive reading devices “elitist” and declared that when he saw a woman sitting on the plane with a Kindle on his flight to New York, “I wanted to hit her.”

[...]
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/01/books/01bea.html
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:03 PM   #2
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Well I won't be buying any of Sherman Alexie's books. What a jerk. I don't understand how ebooks could elicit such a violent response.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirbruce View Post
He called the expensive reading devices “elitist” and declared that when he saw a woman sitting on the plane with a Kindle on his flight to New York, “I wanted to hit her.”


It's a good thing that he doesn't find flying on a plane to be "elitist". He should have walked to New York.

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Old 06-01-2009, 01:20 PM   #4
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It's a good thing that he doesn't find flying on a plane to be "elitist". He should have walked to New York.

Excellent point !
"Elitist" ! Pfahh ! What a snob !
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:31 PM   #5
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Sherman Alexie, the National Book Award-winning author of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” said he refused to allow his novels to be made available in digital form.
I hate to break it to such a nice guy, but he has 5 books available in the Kindle store...
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by queentess View Post
I hate to break it to such a nice guy, but he has 5 books available in the Kindle store...
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:43 PM   #7
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I think we should send him some friendly letters.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:46 PM   #8
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The thing is that Sherman Alexie should be happy that more people are reading because of eBook readers. The format be it paper or electronic should not matter. In fact, I think a lot more obscure/less well known authors are benefiting from eBooks. All they have to do is give away one of their books in a proper electronic format and if the reader enjoys it, then others can be purchased. But Sherman Alexie is just out of his mind.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:20 PM   #9
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He's issued an odd non-apology apology:

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This is a New York Times article that is, in part, about my participation on a panel at BookExpo America in New York last Thursday: nytimes.com. Motoko Rich, the journalist, vastly simplified what I said during the panel. That's how journalism can sometimes work. I'm a big boy. I can deal with it. But I did want to clarify one point. I made a dumb joke about seeing a woman on my flight into New York and how I wanted to hit her because she was reading a Kindle. Though the joke got big laughs from the crowd (primarily made up of female independent booksellers, by the way), I should have edited myself. I should have said, "I saw a man on the airplane reading a Kindle and I wanted to hit him." In this way, my joke becomes about my true object of fear, distrust, and anger---the Kindle---and not about the gender of the person reading the Kindle. If I had said I wanted to hit a man for reading a Kindle, I doubt that faux-warrior quote would have made the papers. After I told my bad joke, I detailed, in a three or four-minute statement, exactly why I'm wary of the Kindle, but Motoko Rich reduced my worries to just one word: "elitist." Though I would like to complain that she has also done me the slight injustice by reducing my statement to one word, it is a fairly accurate if condescending one-word summation. This isn't the first time I've said something humorous that allowed journalists to take me less than seriously. And it won't be the last time. I'm funny that way. But I want to make one thing clear. I did not mean to tell a misogynistic joke. I meant to tell an anti-Kindle joke. And I'm sorry for my macho bullshit error.
The man is even more of an asshole than he sounded originally. We weren't offended you would hit a woman, you imbecile, we were offended you'd hit anyone, and offended that you didn't want your work available on the Kindle. And furthermore, YOUR WORK IS STILL ON KINDLE. Moron.
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:42 PM   #10
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Wow, it just keeps getting better:

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Posted on Jun 1, 2009 2:42 PM PDT

Dr Lilith says:
PERSONAL RESPONSE FROM THE AUTHOR:

I think my assistant guided you to my website statement about this but I also wanted to respond personally.

1) As I said on the panel, I grew up on very poor on an Indian reservation and had no access to the current technology of the 60s and 70s. And as much as people like to believe that everybody today has access to current technology, it's not true. There will still be plenty of people, especially poor minority kids, who will, no matter how much money they save, ever have a Kindle or any other kind of electronic book technology. And I worry that those poor kids will miss out on educational opportunities because they don't have access to the most current technology.

2) I told a dumb joke about wanting to hit somebody. My website makes my intentions and apologies clear. But, in the future, I will say other outrageous and potentially offensive things. It's my job to do that. I'm a writer and political activist. Democracy doesn't thrive on aggreement; it's thrives on dissent and satire and disagreement.

3) I have made my poetry books available on Kindle to prove a point. When I last checked, I have sold seven copies in total. Heavy profits. Only certain kinds of books will find success in electronic form and I worry that publishers will focus too much attention on those books, and ignore, in even greater ways than they already do, the smaller and stranger and less commercial books out there. That said, I have sold the electronic rights to my latest novel. I had to sell them. I, a lone individual, had to buckle to a corporation. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, you should feel angry that I couldn't win a battle against a corporation.

4) Bookstores suffer because of electronic book sales. If EBooks do eventualy dominate the publication market, then dozens of independent bookstores will go out of business. As much as corporate farming is killing the family farm, corporate EBook publishing will kill the small bookstore.

5) What happens to the electronic waste created by Ebooks? We're already dumping epic amounts of toxic electronic garbage in Third World countries. EBooks will only add to that mess.

6) I am sorry you won't read any more of my books, but if you indeed read my stuff before, then you know that my work is about the pain caused by racial and class injustice. And while I could very well be wrong about the Kindle and its kind, I remain greatly worried about the racial and class injustices associated with them. I hear very few people talking about this in the literary world. Or elsewhere. And your email of complaint about my words in no way considered the very real class and racial (and yes, gender) injustices inherent in any capitalistic endeavor. I am simply, as a writer, trying to make people aware of the potential problems. You have every right to be offended, but I would hope you also take another look at the implications of electronic book technology.
Dear Mr. Alexie,

Please climb down off your cross. We need the wood.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
3) I have made my poetry books available on Kindle to prove a point. When I last checked, I have sold seven copies in total. Heavy profits. Only certain kinds of books will find success in electronic form and I worry that publishers will focus too much attention on those books, and ignore, in even greater ways than they already do, the smaller and stranger and less commercial books out there. That said, I have sold the electronic rights to my latest novel. I had to sell them. I, a lone individual, had to buckle to a corporation. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, you should feel angry that I couldn't win a battle against a corporation.

4) Bookstores suffer because of electronic book sales. If EBooks do eventualy dominate the publication market, then dozens of independent bookstores will go out of business. As much as corporate farming is killing the family farm, corporate EBook publishing will kill the small bookstore.

5) What happens to the electronic waste created by Ebooks? We're already dumping epic amounts of toxic electronic garbage in Third World countries. EBooks will only add to that mess.
Conservatives/Luddites are so much fun. The arguments they conjure up in order to defend their positions are awesome.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:15 PM   #12
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1. As I didn't already know that ! First thing (or second) I say when I speak about my Cybook is that it's a pretty expensive gadget (though one of the least !).

2. Democracy is a good excuse for a lot of harsh words.

3. I don't think poetry is the best genre too (for online purchase, that is ! I think it's the one that is good for slow perusal, paperback then). Maybe if your name is Baudelaire or someone like him ? I don't imply he's a bad one, I don't know his works...

4. I was in a little bookstore last week, to buy some spanish teaching books (I'm trying to learn !). They (bookstores) will continue to offer things ebooks don't.

5. The eternal question.

6. Poor boy ! Luckily (!?) he's not the only one to write on this subject.

Last edited by Idoine; 06-01-2009 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Details about poetry !
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:18 PM   #13
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It's so hypocritical.

1. If he cares so much about the injustices of capitalism, why does he sell his books at all?

2. He claims he HAD to sell his electronic rights because of the evil corporations. Well, sure, maybe -- IF HE WANTED TO GET PAID. Don't make a deal with your Devil and then complain about the terms.

3. Why did he LIE and say he DIDN'T allow his books in electronic format when clearly he DOES? He was trying to look superior, and instead came out looking like a hypocrite.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:11 PM   #14
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But I'm sure he'll allow his books to be sold in Barnes and Noble, or Amazon or Borders (which kill independent bookseller).

And I'm sure he's chucked many electronic items. Forget the fact that these devices are itty bitty, and those who have them take care of them, and when they die, often resell them (but if they don't, they don't create a lot mess).

Wack job.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:13 PM   #15
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OMG, this is to funny for words...the dude some use a computer, right? Maybe a laptop, printer, whatever...I sure hope he uses a quill pen and his own blood when writing his works on scraped tree bark or home grown and made hemp paper...lord knows what he thinks of a flush toilet?!!

He is as funny as the IpOd evangelists...
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