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Macworld, Amazon Kindle,

Steve Jobs versus the Book

By Joshua Hill —— Bio and Archives--January 30, 2008

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Sometimes a story/article must be built upon very little. In church, it is often the case with a good pastor that you will get a whole sermon on one short sentence. Here is my chance to test my skills against the fanboy-god Steve Jobs, in much the same vain.

Macworld as of a few weeks ago, and the man who is loved by many – Steve Jobs – decided to make a fool of himself; over and over again. First of all, but not the text of this piece, he decided to snob a Mac fan who – unlike some – actually is someone. Violet Blue is one of the internet generations stars; she is an author and a sex-educator, who is a big Mac fan. She decided to see if she could speak to el Jobso; here’s how it went down, in her own words.

“I saw that Steve Jobs was just hanging out on the Macworld Expo floor, not in conversation, not talking to anyone, and poking at his iPhone in the middle of the wandering public, so I walked over. Thinking a girl—in this case, a fangirl, me—will never get anything if she doesn’t ask for it, I lightly touched his arm and said, ‘Hi.’ He looked at me, and I blushingly asked if it would be OK for me to take a picture with him. I didn’t say my name or give credentials or anything else, I was just any girl. He told me curtly, flatly, that I was rude. And turned his back to me.”

Needless to say, Steve Jobs is not a very nice person. In fact, it is pretty much a known fact that the man who – along with Steve Wozniak – started Apple, is just a very mean man to most people.

So when Jobs made this following comment, I was just a little outraged. When asked what he thought of Amazon’s Kindle – the ebook with the very book-like graphics – his response was curt; “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is; the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.”

Now you’ll have to forgive me; I am, in as simple and plain terms as possible, a literaholic. I love books with a passion that has been with me my entire life. I have never thrown out a book – whether it be to good-will or the rubbish – and I have a collection that rivals that of my parents; I am only 23, they are not.

My life is lived on the computer, and I am a tech-head too. But there is only one thing on this planet I could not live without, and that is books. So when Steve Jobs decided to comment blithely on the Amazon Kindle, I decided to step up to the plate.

You see, while America may not be the home of literary endeavor and book-worms, they aren’t as simple-minded as some would have you believe. In fact the figure that Jobs gives – 40% - is incorrect. Randall Stross, an author based in the Silicon Valley and a professor of Business at San Jose State University, wrote an article that appeared at Cnet and the New York Times. He referred to a survey conducted in August of 2007 by Ipsos Public Affairs for The Associated Press. They found that only 27 percent of Americans had not read a book in the previous year.

However what was more interesting was that the same percentage read more than 15 books, and 8 percent read 51 books or more. In fact, when excluding the Americans who hadn’t read a book, the average books read were 20 a year.

In other words, Steve Jobs needs to get his facts straight. ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’ is a combination that seems to have found its home in Steve Jobs. Why give a recommendation to a product that will take people away from mindlessly enjoying your own product; ie, the iPod.

Is that what this all comes down too? I wouldn’t put it past him, considering his own personality, and the success of the iPod. And don’t get me wrong, I love the portable media age; when I’m walking I have my iPod, because otherwise walking in to lamp-posts and in front of busses with my nose buried in a book will leave me wondering what happened to Moby Dick.

And while I am a book man first and foremost, and will probably not end up buying a Kindle (granted, it could be the $399 USD price tag and the US-only functionality), when you come out and attack books, you aren’t making any friends. Why so? Because it is a (predicted) $15 billion industry in the US alone!

Joshua Hill, a Geek’s-Geek from Melbourne, Australia, Josh is an aspiring author with dreams of publishing his epic fantasy, currently in the works, sometime in the next 5 years. A techie, nerd, sci-fi nut and bookworm.

Guest Column Joshua Hill -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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