Having only recently joined the publishing conversation, I’ve been trying to go back in time and do my homework using the trusty WABAC Machine we all call the internet. While I already (perhaps erroneously) feel as if I have my mind around the major issues, I was not prepared to run across something like this:
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.”
Whatever passions the elitism of the Kindle might have aroused in Mr. Alexie, it’s fair to say that confessing a desire to hit a woman aroused a fair bit of passion in others as well. Given that there has been a general social prohibition (far too weakly enforced) against hitting women for a much greater slice of history than the Kindle has been infuriating writers of noble purpose, I have to say that I think Mr. Alexie probably got his fair due.
(You can read a clarification of Mr. Alexie’s position on the Kindle here.)
What caught my attention, however, was not so much Mr. Alexie’s theatrics (and here I assume he is not a misogynist), but the fact that the quote in question came from a New York Times article that was published only six months ago. Because unless I’m badly misreading the tea leaves today, nobody is talking about the Kindle dominating any market any time soon. In fact, I seem to be reading articles today which speculate that the Kindle’s e-content price of $9.99 is too high. And in a world that rapidly seems to be embracing a floor price of FREE it’s hard to argue against such claims.
Whether driven by hype or substance — which only time will tell — the evolution in the publishing industry is clearly a firestorm. I had no idea things were moving this fast.
— Mark Barrett