Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Malcom Gladwell: " a problem that was never a problem in the first place"

I'm just back from BEA...and man was New York hot! I didn't get a chance to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak but PW gave a synopsis of his interview by Brad Stone.
Below is the excerpt from PW:

Malcolm Gladwell was interviewed by Brad Stone at BEA's IDPF Digital Book conference on Wednesday, billed as a conversation about the future of digital publishing but more a discussion of his forthcoming book DAVID AND GOLIATH: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants--and a selection of at least some misfit ideas.

Gladwell's main thought on digital publishing is that people should be able to buy a book’s content and receive it in every format, from print to digital to audio. Not only did he have little guidance, but he showed little regard for the digerati in the audience: "People involved in the digital world always like to pretend they’ve invented more than a process. They want to believe it's a way of life or a philosophy, as if they're Schopenhauer. The only people who are good for the book business are people who produce great books. Amazon is just a place where people can find books. Amazon has 'solved' a problem that was never a problem in the first place."

Nor does he like the solution itself, suggesting unlimited selection is a problem. "You do not want everything you want, that's terrifying. You don't want a restaurant with a menu with 10 pages, you want three choices. The best experience as a consumer is someplace intimate and manageable, where someone with taste has given some consideration to what's being sold--like a good bookstore."

And Gladwell has no desire to communicate with readers except through the media he already uses. He does not Tweet, for example, and said, "It's weird for me as someone who writes for a living, that you would come home at night and write."  He suggested "that would be assuming that the more of me the better, but not everyone wants more of me."

Another controversial swipe was aimed at the New York Public Library's main branch: "The massive money sink of a mausoleum on 42 Street should be sold to support all the branch libraries." Gladwell supports libraries and their primary mission: "Libraries are also safe havens for people who are not from privileged backgrounds, who do not have access to books and where there is no quiet space to work."

But in his view, "the New York Public Library should be focused on keeping small libraries open, on its branches all over the city." He said, "Every time I turn around, there's some new extravagant renovation going on in the main building. Why?" (His distaste for property expenditures extends to colleges, too: "Students are funding mechanisms for the construction of new real estate.")

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