At SXSWi: Could future J.D. Salingers learn from Mark Cuban?


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Peter Miller, a publishing professional and used bookstore owner, is blogging for Jacket Copy from the SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

SXSWi’s opening day ended unceremoniously with a mass evacuation of the Austin Convention Center because of a pulled fire alarm. It took the steam out of the remaining panels, including the one I had been watching. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, had been posturing with entrepreneurial smugness (he once wrote,’I have a whole lot more fun now. It doesn’t suck to be rich.’) about the gobs of money he was raking in from his startup HDNet, the first high-definition satellite network.


Will the authors who make it to SXSWi be savvy enough to work it HD-style, mugging for the flip cameras and tailoring their comments to 140 characters? Drinking on stage (as happened in Thursday’s ‘How to Rawk SXSW’) is celebrated and cheered. Try doing that at the annual book convention -- ‘How to Rawk BEA’ -- and you would have a lot of sullen alcoholics bumming out the audience with tales of the publishing process.

In all the talk about the failure of publishers to get with the times, secondary questions arise. Can you turn a J.D. Salinger into a Mark Cuban? Can writers whose writing emerges from antisocial tendencies become social networkers? Should we encourage them to be more smug? Should we punish them if they don’t?

The second day of SXSWi begins with promising panels, including ‘Why Keep Blogging?’ and ‘Can You Copyright a Tweet?’

-- Peter Miller