For the first year after Ishmael first came out in hardcover, the people I heard from were almost all over 40. For two years after it came out in softcover, the people I heard from were mostly between 30 and 40. For the next three years, the people I heard from were mostly between 20 and 30. For the last two years, the people I’ve heard from have been mostly between 14 and 25. What this means is that Ishmael is finally being read by the people who most need to see it.

The German physicist Max Planck remarked that “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents. . . . What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.”

Very often people of your generation say to me that they’re “only 14” or “only 18.” There’s really no “only” to it. Within a decade, your generation will be waking up the entire world, including your elders, who now so often look down their noses and say, “What can YOU know? You’re only 18.”

If I’d started by trying to win over the graybeards with a scholarly book, I might have reached a few thousand by now. By bypassing them and going directly to the people for whom this all counts the most, I’ve reached millions in the same amount of time—and time is definitely of the essence right now (as you and your generation well know).

ID: 550
posted: 01 Apr 2002
updated: 02 Apr 2002

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