In all the hoopla last week at Macworld, and the launch of the MacBook Air, Steve Jobs was quoted on a different, but related topic, in the New York Times.
And it has got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard him say. He’s asked a question about Amazon’s new Kindle e-reader device, and this is what he has to say about it:
“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.”
I mean, what does that mean exactly? On that basis, I suppose he’s telling Amazon to go out of business all together, because if no one is reading, then what are they doing selling books? While his basic stats might even be true, this doesn’t stop plenty of authors, publishers and retailers up to Amazon from selling to that other 60 percent — not to mention the millions in other countries who still read, in far greater percentages than the US. I think all us writers, and readers, should be offended by this statement.
And even then, I think Jobs misses a point closer to home — reading and the Internet. Even if people are reading fewer books, I think an emormous amount of people are actually reading far more than they would have a decade or more ago — through e-mail, websites and blogs. The Web has been largely a positive step for literacy (many issues aside), and from computers, to phones and PDAs, to new gadgets like the Kindle, people have more places and ways to read more than possibly ever before.
So if that’s what Steve Jobs really thinks, then so be it. The rest of us will just keep on reading (and writing, naturally).