Franzen Hates E-books and Oprah, Yet Still Uses Both to Sell Books

Deutsch: Ortsende von Franzen in Niederösterreich

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Speaking of saying stupid things in public, it seems that Jonathan Franzen recently jumped on the anti-eBook bandwagon during a recent speaking engagement:

“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now… I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change…”

I guess I should be used to Jonathan Franzen making an arrogant, pompous, elitist ass out of himself on a regular basis. After all, this is the guy who caused a major controversy by rejecting an Oprah Book Club edition of his book The Corrections, only to later embrace the marketing label and willingly became Oprah’s newest acquisition when pushing his latest book, Freedom. If only Franzen had the same editorial guidance he receives from his publishers when taking illogical stances on unsurprisingly complex issues.

The most stunning remark is Franzen’s claim that books are waterproof. Anybody who has ever dropped their spy novel in the tub or tried to sell a rain-soaked paperback at a yard sale knows that waterlogged books, while retaining their overall shape and form, rapidly decrease in value. Then again, Franzen is probably speaking from experience, as I’m sure that when he accidentally spills a freshly opened bottle of Lauquen Artesian all over a book, he simply chuckles to himself as he wipes away the excess Mineral Water and calmly slips it back on the shelf.

However, what’s even funnier is his claim about the permanence of the written word. During his little Luddite speech, Franzen smugly states that “The Great Gatsby was last updated in 1924. You don’t need it to be refreshed, do you?” Maybe not, but I’ll bet his publishers could have refreshed his book, since the first UK printing of Freedom had to be recalled after numerous printing errors were discovered in the initial print run. And I can bet you that the many reprinting of his earlier works all had corrections made in between bargain bin releases. How’s that for permanence?

On top of all of this, it is worth noting that Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is also available on Kindle. As an Oprah Book Club Selection.

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