…… he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.
“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.”
This is really odd, because most techies will read about the MacWorld presentation through blogs or newsreports or through online versions of newspapers like the NYT. Millions of people have now read about Steve Jobs saying we dont read any more. An awful lot of what we do on the web is to read, so its simply a nonsense, no starter, non sequiter, not at all true, to say that people dont read any more. If you use the web you read a lot. The web is a literary medium to its core, down to the last little hyperlink.
The real challenge is that most publishers (of magazines, books and even newspapers) do not yet do a very good or reliable job of publishing their books, magazines and papers on and through the web. If most books were on the web, there would be a lot more reading of books. Contra Steve Jobs, the Kindle is flawed from the bottom up. He should have said people do an increasing portion of their reading on the web, so its kind of irrelevant (or ‘loopy’ to use a Jobs word) to build a specialist book reader. Books need to be on the web and playing their full part in the digital dance. A specialist book-reader also misses the point that Steve is missing. We want to read more through the web, and building a specialist and compartmentalised book reader risks further ghetto-isation of the book.
Not to worry, we are in a transitional phase. Almost all scientific, technical and academic periodicals are now published primarily through the web. Most scholars read them using their web versions (mostly PDF files). Fifteen years ago nearly all access was via print.
Where the scholars, engineers, doctors and academics have gone, consumer markets will follow. In five or ten years time we will happily access magazines and books mainly (but not exclusively) via their digital editions.