Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Sherman Alexie The Hardy Boys and Kindle

So I saw Sherman Alexie on Colbert. He is a great writer with more guts in him than just about anyone I can think of, and if you don't believe me find his ten minute lecture on you tube from 2001, you'll see an example of the courage of a Native American. It is unfortunate he seems to be loosing some of his splendid Northwestern Indigenous patois, but that is beside the point. He doesn't allow his new book to be sold on Kindle. For him, it's about digital privacy and royalty payments for the most part, but here's another scary little gem I came across.

Say there is a "mistake" in the "first printing" of your book. Kindle plans on always selling the latest version. That's right...without the permanence of the paper page they will be continuously selling the um..."corrected" version.

When I was young, like all boys, I was mesmerized by the Hardy Boys. GAWD, I was horrified to find 30 years later while browsing the same book I had owned that the fellows had joined a ROCK BAND! In a book with the same title! Cripes...nothing is sacred. I don't remember if they had their fat friend Chet playing the drums, but I think so. I shudder. I didn't want my heroes to be practicing in the garage in a lousy group that probably sounded like the Monkees or the Jonas Brothers or whoever...I wanted them chasing scoundrels in outdated language and wearing outdated knickers while they chased them. It was atmospheric and exciting.

Use a Nancy Drew analogy if you like.

So what's to prevent Kindle from "correcting" something stupid a stupid politician says in a subsequent "edition" of the one for sale today. Or changing (they'll call it "updating") a statistic to more "accurately" reflect a situation?

There is a REASON books on paper stay the same. Because they are BOOKS.


  1. Funny you mention the Hardy Boys. The first time I really became aware of how editions of books change was when I was reading an original Nancy Drew from the 1930s. I collect them. I don't recall which book it was, but I was a bit stunned at the language used to describe a person of color. The same language is not in the "cleaned up" edition today. I don't want to read the cleaned up politically correct version. I want the original language with all its flaws. Obviously the publisher recognized that the language would be offensive to audiences in the 1960s and changed it. But you've made a good point.

    What's to prevent books on a Kindle from being changed by a hacker? Are they 100% guaranteed hacker free? If Amazon can suddenly make a book disappear from your Kindle can someone else go in and edit what you have? And where's your proof that it's been changed? Is this the next Fahrenheit 451? What control will the "book" seller and the publisher have over the information about the person who has bought the book? Who maintains that database? Can all "copies" of a book suddenly disappear if there is no hard copy? Slippery slope. Not taking the ride.

  2. I take the subway a lot and see newspapers and paperbacks and library books all the time,but even though people are on their IPhones and Blackberries constantly, I have yet to see a Kindle.

  3. Yet another reason - as if one was needed - to stick with the printed word. Your post reminds me of the current backlash against Harlequin, which chose to republish six of its early pulps as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations. All well and good, until the editor in charge blogged that "scenes and phrases" had been altered so as not to offend "a 2009 readership". Quite a revelation, given each volume includes a message from Harlequin's president and CEO stating "it is such fun to be able to present these works with their original text and cover art".