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Here’s author Sherman Alexie on last night’s Colbert Report, explaining why he doesn’t sell his books in digital format (i.e., why he’s terrified of ebooks). Among the eggs of knowledge he drops:

  1. It’s easier for the government to spy on you when all your books are in one place.
  2. The music industry doesn’t make any money because “somewhere between 75 and 95% of music is pirated.” (Airtight.)
  3. Books will be easily pirated once digital. The industry will then fail and (he intimates) there will be no more books.
  4. The Internet makes it so there’s no intellectual property and no “artistic ownership.”
  5. Stephen King and James Patterson should especially be worried. (I would be petrified if I were either of them. I’m not sure … exactly what I’d be scared of … but I’d be petrified.)
  6. If authors did more readings, that would fix everything—but they can’t.

So basically the same ol’ stuff with an extra dose of paranoia.

Look, I get it: it’s fun and easy to be scared of digitization. But to say that 95% of music is pirated and that books are dying because not enough authors are “storytellers”… that’s a stretch. Books are dying because we publish 400,000 a year in the U.S. alone—99.9% of which are complete garbage—and even an avid reader can only read 50 of those. What you got there is a three-legged goat.

[UPDATE: I think Alexie was talking about this report that likes to throw around the stat that “95% of music is pirated.” What they mean by it, however, is tough to decipher. They don’t mean that their sales are down 95%, which their phrasing implies. Instead, they apparently mean that 95% of albums and song are pirated by at least one person. Which is a stat that means nothing to anyone. Except, evidently, Sherman Alexie.]

Also, while we’re on the subject, if you’re popular enough to be pirated, you’re probably making a decent living. If you embrace as wide an audience as possible, you will become more popular and more wealthy. That’s the way it is.

Also… not selling your books on Kindle isn’t going to “save white culture.” Just to clarify.

Anyway, enough of me—here’s the video:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sherman Alexie
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