Author Sherman Alexie's Rants On Colbert


On the Colbert Report, author Sherman Alexie spent most of the interview ranting against digital books and how "piracy" was destroying the book business. The whole thing was odd not just because of how uninformed it was, but also because he seemed to contradict himself multiple times. I haven't read any of Alexie's books, but if his logic is so twisted, it's difficult to think that his books are worth reading.

More commentary and video of Colbert piece at Techdirt


Blog commentary at Fiction Matters

Last week I was reveling in having the television and Internet hooked up in my new apartment, and settling down to read some RSS feeds while watching The Colbert Report as author Sherman Alexie was scheduled to be on. Alexie was an eye-opener, but not in the way I think he meant to be. To put it bluntly, Alexie displayed a lack of fundamental understanding regarding just about every aspect of publishing in a digital atmosphere. And in doing so, Alexie served to only perpetuate myths which can be dangerous if left unattended.

Full blog entry

"... to save part of their culture."

all you technodweebs missed the point... digital leads to a fractured culture.. the extinction of human contact.. that's his overall point... yes, money (or wampum) is involved, but since you love your electronic crap more than you love people, you disregard his warning...

>digital leads to a fractured culture.. the extinction of human contact

Go back twenty years and find a group of people at work talking. What are they talking about? What was on television last night. Printed material as the cultural bond has been weakened for a long time. Kids still read some of the same books in school so that creates a cultural bond.

But bring up the current literary novel and maybe 3 people out of a hundred have read it. Mention the Battle Bears app on the iPhone/iPod Touch and more people are likely to have played that then read the current literary novel. Same as it was 20 years ago. Decrying the end of culture because of electronics is both wrong and silly.

Technology now makes it possible for friends separated by distance to watch TV shows together and then talk about it on Skype.

Article in the NYT: Watching TV Together, Miles Apart

I haven't seen his rant on Colbert, but I love his writing. A great American author and definitely worth reading.

Do we really know for sure that there is a problem with pirated books? Several authors and publishers--Cory Doctorow springs to mind, of course--are making some of their books available for free, but is there really a traffic in pirated NYT best-sellers? I sure haven't heard about it. if I were a textbook publisher I might be a tiny bit concerned, but why would Sherman Alexie be concerned? Does he have concrete evidence that his income is being negatively affected by digital copies of his books?

On Colbert Sherman Alexie seemed to indicate that none of his books were in ebook format. There are at least 5 of his works available for the Kindle. See:

It's weird that Alexie is so anti e-book (perhaps a ploy to get into the public eye? Who knows.)

But don't say "this guy has a weird uninformed opinion about something, so his writing must not be any good." What's the point of even saying that?

Anyway, you know as well as I do that every single good author in all of history has gone off on bizarre stupid rants about some subject at some point. What would you think about some other person saying "I haven't read this guy's book, but I saw him on tv and he made me mad so I bet it sucks." ? You'd think that person was silly, and their logic was as convoluted as what you're complaining about.

Alexie's books are gorgeous, unique American classics - he's one of those rare authors whose books are forced reading in high school that students actually connect with and love. You're missing a really good author if you refuse to read him because of his bizarre e-book prejudice.

Those who think that people are FORCED to read books in high school and those who understand the distinction between "forced" and "required."

I'm not a TV watching person. I'm engrossed now in Sherman Alexie's books, both in print and on tape. I don't know what happened on the Colbert show. However, Sherman is just following his nature. A bird will be a bird, no matter the observations or comments of others. He's using his voice, his way, and singing it into the world. Humans forget this, so separate from other life forms at times. Yes, digital means allow humans to stay in touch. However, TOUCH is the issue. So many end up touching others via plastic - keyboards, phones, and etc. This can be a way that consciousness can connect. However, we do live in physical bodies. And souls can touch through the physical senses including skin, voice, vision, and etc. Sherman is an alarm bell, a bird with bright feathers. He is making observations and singing them into the world. I'm glad we have a way to express our views freely this way, in a forum like this also. Mr. Alexie gives voice to things many others fear to utter. Stephen Colbert knows this, and has good intention. Mr. Alexie is also a miracle of survival, having been expected to die in childhood. I for one celebrate his presence. May the voice, song and story continue on. Aho.

First Peter David went crazy; now him. It's a damn shame to see the really smart ones lose their minds just enough to be really damn dangerous to their own audience and creative futures. I could explain that I understand where he thinks he's coming from. I could salute him for still being a great voice for modern Native American and for the rural and broke no matter what their color, but why bother? He's already decided the technologically dedicated are thieves and deviants who are a blight on the landscape and I can't argue with bigots of a new variety, even really damn smart ones.

The whole idea I'm listening to two admitted geeks, especially one of them from my technology-aware homeland, on this subject is nothing short of physically painful. Damn, damn, and more damn.

"Electricity is really just organized lightning." - George Carlin

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