Thursday, July 9, 2009

When authors spar

When authors spar, it is usually good business, and good for business. Media happy. Sales up. Publishers happy. Authors happy. Customer entertained.

Chris Anderson, author of previous bestseller, Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, is out with a new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price,  (as an aside, he has been accused of plagiarism, i.e. reproduction without attribution, in his latest book: 'Free' plagiarism charge frames Internet content debate - Los Angeles Times, Wired Editor Apologizes for Copied Passages -, What's Right and Wrong with Media Now -

Malcolm Gladwell, author of bite-sized infotainers like Outliers: The Story of Success, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, and The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, takes exception in his review of the book, making some valid points in an article in the New Yorker, though not shying from taking provocative potshots too:
This is the kind of error that technological utopians make. They assume that their particular scientific revolution will wipe away all traces of its predecessors...

As Gordon Dean, Strauss’s predecessor at the A.E.C., wrote, “Even if coal were mined and distributed free to electric generating plants today, the reduction in your monthly electricity bill would amount to but twenty per cent, so great is the cost of the plant itself and the distribution system.”

You can read my review of "Outliers" at ...
Anderson retorts in a short article, selectively picking what he wants to pick on, "Dear Malcolm: Why So Threatened? | Epicenter |", with a snarky intro:
But since journalist Malcolm Gladwell has somewhat parochially decided to make the Future of Paid Journalism the focus of his review of Free (which is, ironically, free on the New Yorker’s website; perhaps this is something Gladwell should take up with David Remnick?), I’ll try to respond in a bit more detail.
and a somewhat placatory one-liner:
Gladwell (who, by the way, I both like and admire, so let’s call this an intellectual debate between corporate cousins) writes:

Seth Godin, marketing guru and prolific blogger, joins the fray, "Seth's Blog: Malcolm is wrong", beginning what is one of his longest posts, with:
"I've never written those three words before, but he's never disagreed with Chris Anderson before, so there you go."

Paul Kedrosky also blogs about it at Malcolm Gladwell vs. Chris Anderson: Damn Technology Utopians

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© 2009, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.