Steve Jobs: “People Don’t Read Anymore.”

by | Jan 17, 2008 | Business of Publishing | 67 comments

Not long after dashing some nascent hopes that Apple would unveil some sort of awesome e-Reader device at this week’s MacWorld expo to compete with the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle, Steve Jobs stomped on the book industry a bit more with this quote in today’s Times

“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. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Um. Ouch. You could have just kicked my dog and gotten it over with, Steve.


  1. AmandaKMorgan

    In protest, I’m throwing away my iPod. Metaphorically.

  2. Adaora A.

    Maybe I should throw myself over a cliff. That is totally…I just bought On Chestire Beach by Ian McEwan (don’t get all excited Nathan). I guess I just bought it to prop up a rickety desk eh?

    What were he smoking or drinking when they said that?

  3. Adaora A.


    The book industry should buy heavy duty bullet proof vests. Seems like everyone is firing rounds at us these days. All want to be/current writers should become recluses apparently.

  4. Nathan Bransford

    Kidding aside though, I really do agree with Jobs’ assessment. I don’t think that many people are going to spring for dedicated e-readers. It’s just too expensive to pay a whole lot for a device that does only one thing. If there’s going to be an e-book revolution it’s going to happen on devices like iPhones (that do a lot of things and that people will already have), not on an e-reader.

  5. Adaora A.

    Ironically I’ve just a computer/Society lecture at uni. We were watching a video on the history of Apple and IBM.

    The problem with these people is they consistently underestimate their audience. They said no one had any use for a PC and they were wrong. They said e-books are the thing of the future and will totally blow hard copy books out of the water – that has yet to happen. People still go to the stores, and people still buy things in hard copy. I think it probably would happen with iphones but like you said we already have it. Some people buy audiobooks in leu of using their eyes so hey!

  6. Emily

    I know a lot of people who read. Of course, I know a lot of people that use books for doorstops, too. I agree that coming out with an expensive device that ONLY has books on it would fail. Apple should make their ipods book compatable, or something like that. Or maybe a phone/book combo. That’d be cool.

  7. Erik

    The process of reading, perhaps even writing, may be on a long downturn. I do think that devices will become more and more controlled by voices, for example. Audio books will likely continue to grow in this world, as will radio-like newscasts.

    But there’s a role for writers in this world no matter what. The final form may change from being a book to a downloadable acted by a voice performer, but there will still be a need for writers.

    So it’s entirely possible that Jobs is correct and no one has anything to fear, employment-wise.

  8. Nadine

    Ouch!! And just when I was raving about my new MAC!

    Everywhere I go, I see people reading constantly – airports, coffee shops, the beach, waiting in line, etc. The list goes on.

    I think Steve Jobs should stand up from his screen and take a walk outside. The results might surprise him.

  9. Kylie

    Um, Steve Jobs, those statistics say that the majority of the US reads two or more books a year, so apparently, we are reading.

    But I will agree, that there is a very slim audience for an e-reader. All the dedicated readers (and the readers like us, the hopeful writers) have been very staunch about standing by good ol’ paper and binding and ink.

  10. Cameron

    “BAH Bookbug!” — As with anything worthwhile that people take for granted, if the printed book were to go the way of the Sony Walkman(dating myself here), then people S. Jobs included – might be whining even more about that than about this supposition that no one reads. I’m up to 9,101 words on my novel now after 3 weeks. Looks like YA with an historical fiction twist… But, alas, by the time it’s published perhaps even YAs will have stopped reading books!
    ;-0 “Bah Bookbug”

  11. Michael Reynolds

    I think you’re right about e-readers. My 10 year-old son read a 700 page manuscript on his iPhone. Granted he’s an early adopter, and granted he’s more motivated since it’s Dad’s book, but still…

  12. Laurel Amberdine

    You know… Steve Jobs also said that no one would ever want to watch videos on an iPod, and that Apple had no interest in making a phone.

    Just sayin’.

  13. beckylevine

    Okay, I’ll admit my first, very mature, response was to say, “Oh, poo on you, Steve!” Since he wasn’t there to hear it, I passed on that idea.

    The more grown-up thought: I don’t know that things have really changed all that much in 40 years, for all of which I have been reading, if not reading statistics! I think there have always been readers and non-readers. How many times, as a child and later, have I walked into the house of a great friend, and um…where are the bookshelves? Even some people who do read a book or so a month–you know, what the do after that? The get rid of the book! They donate it to the goodwill or the library (all great places for ME to pick it up!), or MAYBE they pass it to a friend. But they don’t keep it to read again or just to be happy that its still in their house.

    I’m guessing that the people who read this blog and who spend their days with words don’t have ENOUGH shelves for their books. The nightstand doesn’t have a light, because the book pile is taking up all the room. (Hey, maybe that’s a marketing ploy for the e-readers: Double the stack of books on your nightstand, and don’t worry if there’s an earthquake!)

    We’re okay. Really.

  14. Eric

    This is why I don’t go into Barnes & Noble anymore. Like some post apocalyptic wasteland, its rows of shelves are no more than a vacant land of dust, ghosts, and abandoned dreams.

    Oh wait, that’s not B&N, that’s the space between Jobs’s ears if he thinks people don’t read anymore.

  15. Anonymous

    I didn’t know people didn’t read anymore. Good thing I read that.

  16. Josephine Damian

    I see my own reading habits evolving away from modern fiction into reading more non-fiction and fiction classics, and yes, reading less.

    I think the poor quality of books these days has a lot to do with why people aren’t reading (see yesterday’s post). Whether you’re on a Mac or PC, computetrs/
    Internet, music downloads, video games have all cut into everyone’s reading time. You’ve got to write a really great book to draw attention to it, and away from all these other techno-distractions.

  17. Cam

    Hilarious, Eric; I like the apocolyptic wasteland analogy. The supposed lack of reading makes one wonder how a suburban town w/a population of ~69,000 in N. California can raise $25,000 a year on sales of donated books at its library, especially given that the books are priced at 50 cents to $1 apiece. That’s a heckofalotta books. Perhaps buyers breaking down the books’ recycled pages and using them for garden compost?

  18. moonrat

    re: YOUR comment: have a little faith! you write LOTS of interesting posts. geez. and is it MY fault if i don’t care about writing a perfect query letter? sigh. i suppose it is, actually.

  19. Jess

    I disagree, Josephine. The quality of the work is regardless: some people simply prefer books to technogadgets. Yes, technogadgets compete with books for our time, but that’s not say they win just because they’re there.

    And I don’t think the quality of books is lessening. There are always great books and not-so-great books published. We just only tend to remember the great books from times ago, and thus it seems like overall the quality was better. (I’ve had this discussion a billion times with my husband about his movie collection, too.) (Just like there will always be people who aren’t in to technogadgets and who happen to like the smell of books. :D)

  20. Luc2

    Um, Steve Jobs, those statistics say that the majority of the US reads two or more books a year, so apparently, we are reading. Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better, kylie.
    There’s this quote about two sorts of lies, and one of them is statistics.

  21. Carla

    This is my favorite response to this soundbite so far.

    I think you’re right about e-readers, too. Now if Apple would come out with a tablet PC with some great e-book reading softward (iRead?), that I could get behind. Going back to school soon, I have daydreams about how much better it would be if I could read/organize/annotate all the texts electronically.

  22. Sam Hranac

    People Don’t Read Anymore? Then let us be keepers of a sacred trust. Let us keep writing and producing new works worth reading until the masses wake up.

    It could happen.

  23. Carla

    Argh, software, not softward.

    Of course I mess up my first comment here… (Hi!)

  24. Sophie W.

    Right. People don’t read anymore. That explains why I haven’t used my iPod in six months but I’ve read about twenty books in that time.

    Steve Jobs. You fail.

    You can regain a place in my heart by coming out with a nifty new e-reader some time in the near future.

  25. Cam

    Carla – Luckily no one reads anymore, so the typos should go unnoticed!

  26. Eric

    Did you hear? They got rid of Coke and replaced it with New Coke. Yep. No more Coke. People just didn’t like it. What’s that? People are screaming for the old Coke?

    Okay then, here’s iRead.

  27. jjdebenedictis

    Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.

    Although I would still argue the point with Mr. Jobs, he should have said, “People don’t read books anymore.”

    Thanks to the internet, blogging and MySpace, and even things like text messaging, people are reading more than ever–especially the younger demographics.

    They’re just not reading paper-and-ink books.

    We are becoming a population that spends a lot more time reading words for pleasure than our parents or grandparents did, but those words tend to be virtual, come in small chunks, and be a writer’s opinion rather than a narrative.

    The concept of an e-reader isn’t flawed, but it may be flawed to believe that novels are the sort of words that people want made portable and refreshable.

  28. Cam

    What about the “iPot” Mr. Jobs? It is a portable device designed to replace the toilet, as soon as water use and paper waste are deemed exceesive/unnecessary.

  29. Anonymous

    This says more about Steve Jobs and his habits than it does mine, yours, or theirs.

    BTW, just bought a new laptop today and decided not to get an Apple after all. Only ten percent of the people in the U.S. use Macs. The whole concept is flawed at the top.


  30. Lyz

    Okay, saying that “no one reads” right after having a post about the publishing industry is cranking out 3,000 books a day is a complete contradiction.

    The e-reader will fail because books are more than words on a page. Books are a tactile experience that people fall in love with. No matter what, an e-reader can never have the intriging cover and unique font that my copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being has.

  31. Jessica

    What I’m curious about how these statistics compare to percentage of book readers, say, twenty, fifty, a hundred years ago. And how that compares to general literacy rates from each of those times.

    I agree with jjdebenedictis here. The fact that people may be reading fewer books now (compared to when?) is not a comment on literacy.

  32. Jenny

    People aren’t reading the way they did before the advent of the web. Whole genres of nonfiction have been decimated now that people look for information in Google rather than the bookstore.

    That survey that found that only a small proportion of the population had read a book last year went on to explain that of those who did, in many cases, the only book they had read was the Bible.

    You read. I read. But books have become a niche product. Jobs isn’t putting out any tools for stamp collectors or train enthusiasts either.

  33. Steph Leite

    The idea of reading a book on an iPod (or whatever) creeps me out. I love books! Call me a bibliophile, but I don’t see the point of reading if I can’t feel the pages, turn them, cherish them, you get the picture. (Ahem, ignore the last thing …)

    I wouldn’t ever buy an e-reader, I’d spend that money on books.

    Though it would be interesting to see the iTunes Store selling books!

    – Steph

  34. Adaora A.

    Steph that’s me too. I like running my hands over the cover and I love the rush of finding the book I’ve been looking for or picking one up on a limb. I like having a collection of books on my books shelf (and a half), and I like buying more. I don’t think I’d ever buy this contraption either. Audiobooks are around but you’ll never see me listening to one.

  35. Tom Burchfield

    Well, as Jobs is famous for thinking he’s all people anyway, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.

    JJbenedectis is very right about people read today: it’s been a long time since I actually held a newspaper in my hands (and when I do, I go “Hmm . . . newsprint . . .what will they think of next!?”)

    But books are different; the best of them carry weight. Even the not-so-best and “Don Quixote de la Mancha” (which I’m reading in a nice new weighty edition right now) will never compare with “Don Quixote” on an e-book.

  36. pjd

    Geez, all you people need to stop worrying about this and think about something really important. Like who’s going to win American Idol. Yeah. Welcome to America, baby!


    Seriously: In my job I hear a lot about how the “social contract” is changing. How fifty years ago America made a tacit promise to everyone that if you graduated high school and worked hard, you would be able to get a decent job, buy a house, and raise a family.

    Today’s higher paying jobs require far more education than jobs of 50 years ago. My assumption is that more education is likely to lead to more reading (simplistic conclusion but seems logical to me).

    So when I look at that 40% statistic, my first question (already asked by others here) is, what was that percentage fifty years ago? Frankly, I’d be surprised if it was much different.

    (Of course, then there are the frightening statistics on school dropouts which will affect the future statistics. But outweighing that are the demographics of the workforce, indicating that the Boomers are going into retirement in the next few years, and what do retirees do but read books and watch “The Price Is Right”?)

  37. the_glow_worm

    Well, from your viewpoint as part of the publishing industry, what’s your opinion on that? Are people really reading less? And is that making itself visible on the industry?

    I think Jobs was sprouting bull, myself. What do you think?

  38. Nathan Bransford


    I think it depends on how you look at it. I don’t think this is a golden era for books, both in terms of per capita readership or in influence over culture – I would have pegged that back in the 50s or 60s. At the same time, there are obviously a ton of people reading, and I think some people have a misguided idea that 100 years ago there were a ton of people reading. It just wasn’t the case. Reading used to be a luxury only available to the uppermost classes, not something that we take for granted.

    Books are going to have to continue to battle it out with other media for people’s attention, but they’re not going away.

  39. Steph Leite

    Adaora: Once, I borrowed an audiobook from the library and I was horrified. I don’t think there will ever be an alternative to books that I can truly appreciate–books are just my thing.

    Ironically, I truly cannot stand writing longhand. I guess my tastes pick up on each other!

  40. Sneak Thief

    Whenever anyone throws out statistics I’m suspicious. Maybe it’s my sensitivity to the liberal media bias, maybe it’s just that I’m not a very trusting soul.

    So I read some of the posts here, got curious, and fired up the Google. I found a website called

    My faith was restored after scrolling through some of the data listed. There are a LOT of books being published. I was surprised at the number of publishers reported, though it includes one time self publishing efforts I’m guessing.

    I’m thinking, given all the distractions and alternatives available that the book “industy” is probably doing okay.

    On the e-book question I have to laugh. It’s not a question or a quandry or any sort of a problem at all. Everything will eventually be digital…everything.

    I still have my record collection, my ‘vinyl’. I don’t currently have a turntable that works, but damn it…I can’t just throw them away. I used to own a service company, bought a state of the art 2-way radio system a year before the Feds decreed that the bandwidth should be digital. I have hundreds of CDs…literally hundreds. The kids have i-Pods that an carry more music than my vinyls and CDs combined (don’t even ask about cassette tapes…I fell for that one too!)

    Reading, in whatever form it takes or occurs, is in my estimation a growth industry that no one has latched onto yet, at least that I’ve read about. Tie it in with the baby-boomers. At last…at last…a large segment of the population will have time to read.

    I’m done now…Can’t wait for tomorrows thrilling installment!

  41. Anonymous

    Maybe there needs to be a change in the publishing industry in general so people will be more attracted to books. I didn’t see one comment here that relates to what the mass public is buying and reading. The truth is they either don’t read, or they are reading much less. Many experts say the reason no one watches the Oscars anymore is because the mainstream public hasn’t seen most of the movies that are nominated. Some think this is somewhat of a decline in quality; others think of it as change. Millions of people are watching American Idol, and it sucks. But Fox is making money and people are happy.

    Nicholas Sparks is making money, and he’s getting people to read. It could be time to lower our standards and take a few chances like Fox TV did for the sake of books sales and the sake of reading in general. And in the long term we can make room for the quality material, too.

    I’m not brave enough to sign my name to this…

  42. Southern Writer

    And to think that only last night, my head was whipped around in response to someone’s surprised exclamation, “YOU read?!?” I have to admit, I was a bit surprised, too. Standing before us was a camouflage-wearing, tobacco-spittin’, redneck in the first degree, and he said, “Of course, I read. I won an award in school for readin’ the most books. It’s hangin’ on my wall at home.” That’s the second Good Ol’ Boy I’ve met who devours books, and now I’m thinking of starting a book club and calling it Rednecks Who Read. I’ll bet Jobs has never been to the South. You never can tell about us.

  43. CarBeyond

    Regarding Nathan’s comment (below), with which I tend to agree:

    “Kidding aside though, I really do agree with Jobs’ assessment. I don’t think that many people are going to spring for dedicated e-readers. It’s just too expensive to pay a whole lot for a device that does only one thing. If there’s going to be an e-book revolution it’s going to happen on devices like iPhones (that do a lot of things and that people will already have), not on an e-reader.”

    ummm, see this link that my Dad sent me recently:
    (not for kids, probably)

  44. sex scenes at starbucks

    And I repeat:

    More good books, less bad TV. Trust me, it will solve all ills this country faces.

    We don’t have a tv on the main level of our house. Our children watch no television (and no computer games or PS2) during the school week. They have unlimited during the weekends–often they watch a lot, sometimes just a little bit. My kids go to bed and read at night.

    They’re the only kids I know under such stringent rules, and oddly enough, they’re cool with it. So far.

    Take away the boob tube and it’s amazing what people will do for entertainment…

  45. Aimless Writer

    Perhaps its Steve Jobs who doesn’t read…pity him. He has no idea what he’s missing.
    As for the little reading ipod-book like things. eh. Nothing feels as good as a book in your hands. I can stuff it in my purse, shove it in a backpack or toss it in my car without worrying about it being stolen or broken. If the pages get ripped out I can just stuff them back in. An electronic device? Too fragile. Spill your wine on the ibook..oh no$ Panic$$$ Spill it on a book. eh, fan out the pages, they’ll dry.

  46. Tia Nevitt

    Wow. I was unaware that I had stopped reading.

    I think, if you are a reader to begin with, you don’t just “stop”. Something may slow down your reading pace every once in a while, but I don’t think I’ve even been without a book to read for at least thirty years. And I’m not all that old!

  47. Anonymous

    1. Jobs wears his turtlenecks too tight. They have obviously cut off blood flow to his brain.

    2. Just yesterday you had a post saying 3000 books are published per day. Somebody must be reading, even discounting the vanity publishing.

    3. An ebook reader serves purposes beyond displaying mass-market paperbacks. Technical journals, text books, magazines, newspapers, etc. It’s not just for fiction and pleasure reading.

    4. One of the differences between an ebook reader (theoretically) and other devices such as laptops and phones and PDAs is that the e-paper display is supposed to be easier on the eyes than the backlit displays many of those devices have.

    I don’t know where Jobs gets his statistics from, but yesterday I was looking at a newspaper article that said over 50% of adult americans had read a book in the past 6 months.

    I wouldn’t mind if Apple stays out of the ereader business though. It’s bad enough Amazon is trying to butt in with their proprietary formats.

    That’s another thing. I guess Amazon is crying all the way to the bank about how people just don’t read.

  48. Anonymous

    Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.

    yeah, and everybody posts percentages and facts the numbers change. Ok, so 40% didn’t read, that means that 60% did read.

    My understanding is the US population is 296 million, that means 177.7 million people read at least one book.
    In whose world is this a bad number?

    even with Steve’s “facts” – in quotation because I see so many different numbers that frankly I trust the accuracy of none of them – that’s still more than half the total poluation of one country who read.

    That is still good, that is still a winning margin.
    And the USA is one country only.

    Russia has 400 million people.
    China has the largest publishing industry in the world.
    Japan has what? 150 million odd people?
    The UK has 80 million; my country (South Africa) has 40 million.

    296+80+400+150+40 = 966 million, now add China’s 1 billion.
    60% (according to the facts) will read at least one book or more*, that’s a potential:
    1.17 billion readers, give or take 100 million or so.
    There are more countries in the world than just these.

    Here’s the difference between SA and the 1st world nations mentioned – I would be surprised if our literacy rate (people who can read, nevermind those who want to) is higher than 40%, meaning easily half or more of our population cannot read, or have insufficient reading skills. And still? still we have books that sell 90, 000 copies; still most books are bestsellers between 5000-10, 000 copies, significantly about the same rate as most of the American midlist, and SF hardcovers who sell well.

    literati are always asking “why aren’t more people reading?”
    Fact: in no age ever, have all people of a society been reading.

    The US assumption is: all people can read, therefore why don’t they?
    this is an unquestioning assumption that is born because the bulk of 1st world nations take reading as an unquestioning right; it is not, it is a privilege.
    It is not a fact of life that you pick up on your course through life.
    The amount of people in the world who can read still outnumber the amount of those who cannot.
    Perhaps, then, the answer is not to try and lure readers from nations whose members are literate and choose not to read, but to foster growth among societies who possess inadequate infrastructures to aquire literacy, such as Africa, etc.
    Please refer to Doris Lessing’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, what she said, I can affirm – there are people in these countries too poor to read, but they love to do so, they would read and purchase more books if they possessed the means and the finances. They do not.
    I digress, apologies, back to the point:

    There has never been an age where all people of a society read. People who can read and choose not to, never have and neve will.
    200 years ago, there were less people in the Unites States who possessed 1) the ability to read and 2) the means to purchase books than today.

    IMO, completely based on conjecture and by no means supported by facts and numbers, literacy and publishing is about as doomed as the cockroach in restaurants.

    *and of course the facts and numbers are always presented in such a manner as to manipulate the point of the one giving them. forty percent or less (less indicating maybe thirty, twenty, or even ten) read; but that still means sixty percent or more read.
    why must we continue to insist on perpetuating and believing negative numbering?

    sorry, this is very off tangent from the post, but this “oh, noes! we are doomed because only 3 out of 5 people read!” articles are beginning to irritate me.
    I’ll shut up now.

    ~David de Beer

  49. Anonymous

    >yeah, and everybody posts percentages and facts the numbers change

    whoops! I meant to say that every time somebody posts facts and percentages, the numbers change.

    ~David de Beer

  50. Anonymous

    >The amount of people in the world who can read still outnumber the amount of those who cannot

    that should be the other way around.

    flippin hell, I should start proofing comments before I post!

    ~David de Beer

  51. Allen B. Ogey

    Its pointless to argue over the accuracy of his 40% statistic or point out that me or my friend or my cat’s uncle reads a lot and therefore his “people don’t read” quote is wrong, the real point is that it should be alarming that such a brilliant person as Steve Jobs would say such things.

    Brilliant? Of course he is. This is the guy who has brought us the Macintosh, the iPod and the iPhone, as well as been a major player in another revolution in a completely different industry (digital animation and Pixar). He has a phenomenal track record of taking leading edge technology and blending it into products that people didn’t know they wanted or needed until they saw it.

    I think its more of a disparaging comment on the future of e-readers than reading in general, but this was still Steve Jobs who said it, not some 30 year old, never-kissed-a-girl World of Warcraft player who doesn’t come out of his mother’s basement long enough to see the light of day.

    The funny thing is, Jobs said they won’t build an e-reader but they already have – their own TV ads for the iPhone show users reading the New York Times on it. What, that’s not reading? I’m in hopes that Apple will add book e-reader capability to the iPhone and e-books to the iTunes store. As an earlier post pointed out, Jobs has changed his mind before.

    No, I don’t have an iPhone, but my daughter would sell me into slavery for one.

  52. sex scenes at starbucks

    Well, of course you’re a grownup, Nathan. You can rot your own brain all you like.

    Insert “motherly sigh” here.

  53. AmyB

    “People don’t read anymore.”

    I read.

    So I conclude, logically, that I am not “people.”

  54. mardott

    So… sixty percent of American DO read more than one book a year. Some percentage of those people read five or more books a year. As many as 20, perhaps.

    For fun.

    With an American population of over 350 million people, that’s *a lot* of readers!

  55. Anonymous

    I don’t know, but maybe; just possibly, SJ meant that people aren’t buying as many books nowadays? Publishing is a business, after all. And the sales figures always tell the truth. Just thought I’d toss this one out there as a possibility.

  56. Southern Writer

    AmyB said…

    “People don’t read anymore.”

    I read.

    So I conclude, logically, that I am not “people.”

    Tee hee.
    I read. Therefore, I am not.

  57. Anonymous

    …their own TV ads for the iPhone show users reading the New York Times on it.

    Actually, their TV ads for the iPhone show people not reading the New York Times. The finger keeps flipping the page thumbnails, then goes on to something else.

  58. Lora T.

    You know, this reminds me of the book I was reading the other day, called Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs. Quite funny, actually.

  59. Anonymous

    Here’s the report from the NEA that Jobs apparently got his statistics from: To Read or Not to Read. (Or if you don’t like PDF, use the Google cache.)

    I really think it’s sour grapes on the part of Jobs that other people beat Apple out of the gate. Most notably SONY and Amazon. Apple getting beat by Amazon. That really has to sting.

    And slightly off-topic: If anyone is considering buying an ebook reader, don’t buy one that cannot read both TXT and PDF in addition to the other formats they support. And support for MOBI and HTML would be good too.

  60. writerpatrick

    I would say that I’ve been reading more either online or at least on screen rather than print. But I am reading.

    I think the idea of the e-book isn’t catching on, but audio books and audio book podcasts seem to have some interest. If they produced an e-book reader that would actually read the book out to the listener it might do well. Maybe an audio playing device that would read text. It’s already available for the computer so it shouldn’t be that difficult to add it to a portable device.

    It’s all a matter of habits. An e-book reader is only good if you’re sitting at home or riding somewhere. You can’t use it while driving, and if you’re at work you’ve probably got a computer sitting in front of you. But an audio player is something one can use anywhere, even while working on a computer.

  61. Nona

    “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. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

    All this tells me is that Steve Jobs has gone from being a maverick to being one of those myopic corporate chieftans that let “the next big thing” slip through their hands.

    The development of the electronic reader will go to some brand new start-up with the vision to make it happen. Then all the “non-readers” will see how much fun the “readers” are having and jump on the bandwagon.

    It’s been this way in business since time immemorial.

  62. Nona

    And five years from now Jobs will be trying to buy out the start-up that perfected the e-reader for several billion dollars.

  63. Southern Writer

    A man I know casually at work has been gone for a week, and the person who filled in for me told me he’d gone to Chicago for a funeral. I hoped it wasn’t his brother, about whom he’d spoken many times. When he returned tonight, I expressed my sympathies. He lost two family members in one week, but the one who touched me was a young man, twenty-three years old, whose name was Bronsson McKinley Johnson, a/k/a Baby Biscuit. My friend showed me the program from Bronsson’s funeral, which told a little about him. He’d been ill, so at some point, he must have contemplated his mortality, and had written out his dying wish for his family. I was touched by it, and copied it exactly as he wrote it so I could share it with you all. The title was If I Should Die Now.

    “If I should die now, my wishes would be giving my books to people that will actually READ and enjoy them. Tell my family how I lived, what I wanted to do with myself. I think it was to be a comedy writer like Mark Twain, without all that Southern dialect.”

  64. Nona

    Tell my family how I lived, what I wanted to do with myself. I think it was to be a comedy writer like Mark Twain, without all that Southern dialect.”

    “. . . a dream deferred . . .” That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. This is why people should WRITE, even if the results are “awful.”

  65. Tiffany Aller

    I can’t even believe someone would make the remark that Jobs did in good conscience. But it’s scarily true. I’m a heavy reader – at least a half dozen books every month, and usually more. But my friends and coworkers cannot fathom how much I read. People tell me, all the time, usually when they see me with book in hand, that they try to read at least one book a year. Or that they’ll try to get to a book in a few months or so. Like they’re so busy that they can’t read for even 15 minutes each day. BLOWS MY MIND. What’s worse are some writers I know who do not make time to read. How can you expect anyone else to read what you wrote…if you don’t read what anyone else writes?

    I’m glad I don’t own an iPod or any other Apple device. Because if I did, I’d have to destroy them now in protest. Argh.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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