On his tweetstream, author William Gibson linked to an interview he gave the Paris Review. He had me right away, narrating the cooking-up of the term “cyberspace”. Then the text ran into a paywall: “To read the rest of this piece, purchase the issue.”

I followed the link and discovered that said issue also contains an interview with Samuel Delany, another writer whose work has been important to me. Also, that they wanted $12.00 for it. I considered briefly then hit the Paypal button. Suddenly it was asking my choice of (expensive) shipping options, and I realized that it wanted to sell me an actual physical book.

I was kind of upset because it meant that I couldn’t continue reading right then and there on the sofa. And, well, because Gibson and Delany both have functioned as emissaries from the future (lots of different futures actually); so the notion that, in 2011, I must wait for their words impressed on macerated softwood to arrive via internal combustion, well, it’s jarring.

But I guess I will buy it.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Michael A (Jun 17 2011, at 00:03)

TPR just announced a "digital version", available from Zinio: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/06/15/the-summer-issue-redefining-the-beach-read-since-1953/

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From: Matt Warren (Jun 17 2011, at 01:58)

Seems like they do have a digital version, see the bottom right-hand part of this page http://store.theparisreview.org/collections/subscribe

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From: Nicole Rudick (Jun 17 2011, at 04:16)

Tim, the future truly has arrived. Starting with this issue, you can buy digital versions of the magazine. Go to www.theparisreview.org and click on the box on the right rail showing the iPad. That's it. I know, it's a little hard to find at the moment. We're working on that. Print or digital, though, the issue is worth it. The interviews are fantastic.

Nicole Rudick, Managing Editor, The Paris Review

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From: Joe daLuz (Jun 17 2011, at 04:28)

An alternative would have been a $30 digital subscription, more expensive than the single issue but you would have been able to read it in a browser. Or in my case, an iPad app.

But yes, 2011, would be nice if publishing would recognize that in general.

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From: pat (Jun 17 2011, at 06:10)

The future is irony, the humor is lost on few.

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From: Brandt Kurowski (Jun 17 2011, at 07:13)

There is an alternative, albeit a somewhat unsatisfying one: you could buy a digital copy of The Paris Review on Zinio. It's a poor substitute for a real web version, but it does give you the immediate access you're looking for, and lets you avoid sacrifing trees and oil just to deliver words.

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From: Rob (Jun 17 2011, at 07:17)

Just to show how stupid this is, can I borrow the book when you are done with it? Just like the old days.

Evidently some people just don't Get It. Especially entertaining when they don't Get It when dealing with Gibson.

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From: Steven Harris (Jun 17 2011, at 15:05)

Ah, but Mr. Gibson likes physical things. Consider his interest in old watches. I suspect that he was more interested in giving this interview because he knew it would appear in printed form. Or, at least that's how I prefer to think of how he thinks.

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From: Kevin H (Jun 17 2011, at 15:43)

Although I can see there are savings built into the price, it is certainly hard as a consumer to make the jump from a 5 paragraph sample to paying for a $30 4-issue digital subscription.

Faced with that choice, I think I would make the $12 choice and wait for the print to arrive.

Zinio sounds like a neat app and all, and I'm sure their DRM is top-notch, but I'm sure that adds up to a pretty healthy cut of the sales price.

Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems to me that a publication like TPR should be able to do pretty well selling individual interviews for $2 instant download in DRM-free ePub, PDF and MOBI formats - no middleman, printing or shipping costs needed.

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