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“…The Fact is That People Don’t Read Anymore…”

Steve Jobs on Amazon’s Kindle:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”


[via GalleyCat]

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

25 Comments on “…The Fact is That People Don’t Read Anymore…”

  1. joshua corning // January 18, 2008 at 12:39 am //

    all the pretty pictures

    I am sorry did you say something?

    pictures pretty

  2. The fact that Mr Jobs does not read doesn’t mean we do not. And the truth is the Kindle is temporarily sold out…

  3. General X // January 18, 2008 at 3:13 am //

    While it is a fact that less people read, simply because there is a larger number of entertainment options available, one could argue that those who do are doing it because they love to read and appreciate it thus leaving the good core of readers intact.

  4. Kindle sold out = marketing spin to create a hype for a product, from producing an initial limited run. Standard procedure these days.

    I’d be interested to see the percentages of people who read from ten, twenty, thirty years ago, to see if the levels are falling or the same. Stats in isolation don’t tell us much!

  5. My blog roll has more than 75 examples of people who read more than 3 books a month.

  6. If anything, the web is making people read more. They just don’t think of it as reading in a conventional sense.

  7. I’m a person. + I read about 200 books last year. = Steve Jobs is lying.

  8. I’ve always thought Steve Jobs was a douchebag, but it’s nice to have this quote handy to give to all the liberal arts people who eat out of his hand.

  9. I’m a people, and I read one book already this year. I know that that is not as impressive as some people around here, but I try. Steve jobs is lying!

  10. Ummm…at least 60 books a year for the past several years.

    But, he is at least partly right. People I work with do not read that much. Some average a book a month, some a book a year, some a book every few years.

    What about things **other** than books? Magazines? Newspapers? Websites (like this)? Do they count in his worldview?


  11. That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why I don’t buy products from Apple. That has to be the stupidest statement I have ever heard in my entire life. I recently did a post on my blog about this whole ‘declining readership’ thing in response to a New Yorker article that claimed the readership has been rapidly declining since the 1980s. What did I find out? It’s actually a load of bull. Quoting random percentile figures doesn’t prove anything because when you take into account all the changes in population from 1980 to 2000 you find that readership actually jumped up by the 90s and only recently began to decline by a small percent, which only shows that people are reading, but the number of people doing it isn’t increasing much (reading books I mean).

    Not to mention, when you’re ONLINE and you go to a website, you’re READING. You have to READ to know what the heck is on a computer screen. Contrary to popular belief, kids do READ, they just don’t read what we want them to read. They read guides and forums and stuff related to things they are interested in rather than classics and actual books. Reading hasn’t declined at all. It’s actually gone up by leaps and bounds, astronomically if you will, thanks to the invention of the Internet. More people are reading today than they were 20 years ago. They just aren’t reading books.

    Jobs is a moron.

  12. I don’t think he’s necessarily saying that people don’t read, I think that he’s saying that the market for an expensive piece of hardware designed primarily to function almost as well as a $10.00 paperback is limited.

    Even for people who do serious amounts reading (the people on this site for example), the Kindle is an expensive proposition. Several hundred dollars for the hardware, plus more-or-less the same exact price for each book. There’s really no motivation to make the switch.

    Digital books will thrive on a machine that functions as a catch-all for media: when the non-reading majority will subsidize sales with other features (video, internet, music).

  13. I love two things about this interview. The first is the quote that Americans don’t read because 40% of them only read one book or less in a year. So part of that 40% read a book, and 60%, the majority, read more than one book in a year. This is one of the mathematical geniuses who run our world, but apparently he can’t do basic statistics.

    The second is the “it’s all about movies” line. Two years ago, movies were said to be dying, box office was down, and television/cable was considered the future. Now television is dead and movies are the future? The movie rental business was considered a dead end, with no significant growth and likely to die off. Now Apple is getting into the movie rental business. As for the Kindle, it’s a badly designed product, but it might get better or at least jump start the process a la IPod. Who’d like to bet Apple comes up with an electronic reader sometime soon, if it hasn’t already, rather than give that market up to Sony and other companies?

  14. Incorrect, both as a factual statement and a hyperbole. This is SO wrong that I’m guessing it is either a mis-quote or was taken out of a context in which it made some sort of sense.

    Perhaps books have more competition for people’s entertainment hours than they used to… but that has happened before. Neither radio nor television caused a spike in worldwide illiteracy, so somehow I don’t think video games will cause the written word to become obsolete.

    Are fewer people reading for their entertainment? Maybe. In the future, are there likely to be even fewer people reading for their entertainment? Maybe. Will there ever be a point where NOBODY… reads for their entertainment? No. Will books ever be obsolete? As physical objects, perhaps, and maybe that’s what he meant. But the concept of a novel or a short story will live on in other, likely electronic, formats.

  15. I think he is required by law to issue a certain number of stupid statements per annum. Looks like he’s getting them all out of the way at this year’s macworld.

  16. Two words for Mr. Jobs. Harry Potter.



    Ask me about my novel! 🙂

  17. Kindle is the kind of product that I hope fails in the marketplace. I am too much a fan of the old fashioned medium of reading…the book…to have it someday replaced by this sort of thing.

    And I laugh everytime I hear or read that people aren’t reading. It never fails that whenever I am in the bookstore or the library that it is full of people. No one may be reading, but there are a helluva lot of people buying and checking out books.

  18. Print is dead

  19. Actually Igon is me, although I don’t agree. My monthly budget for books exceeds my food budget. I read, my children read, my grandchildren read.

  20. I’m pretty sure Igon meant to say ‘his’ name was Egon. I bet ‘he’ also collects molds, spores and fungus.

  21. Personal experience is that I read far, far less than I used to – and I LOVE to read. I’m sad to say that I think I read 2 books in 2007, where several years ago I would have several years ago.

    I also think that readers of this site are not representative of the general populace.

  22. Yes, well, the people who run and buy haute coture fashion aren’t representative of the general populace either, but they still get a lot of attention and are considered important. As do books, particularly fiction. About half of the movies out there, for instance, are adapted from books or stories, not just because they might be well structured but because the filmmakers are hoping that fans of the book might come to the movie, giving them a guaranteed audience. Comics wants to do adaptations of books now, and so do the games industry. So someone still thinks we’re valuable. And when a movie adaptation comes out and is successful, or sometimes even if it’s not, the original book goes shooting up the bestseller charts. And if Oprah Winfrey tells her television audience to read a novel, they do. So maybe it’s not so much that people don’t read as that they aren’t aware of what books are out there that might interest them without wider publicity, because the big media corps that own book publishers never give them any of that Hollywood cash for real PR. And maybe because the media ignores books unless they get made into a movie. And maybe people don’t have the opportunity to buy books on impulse because books are offered for sale in fewer stores and places than they used to be. And maybe people figure they won’t read a book because they get regularly told that as consumers, they are stupid and have short attention spans and won’t be able to understand anything they read. So maybe we are the general populace and we’re all not as hostile to reading as pop culture likes to imagine.

  23. dnt rd but sur cn rit gd

  24. Way to go Phil! …That’s right on the money!!!

  25. In his defense, Jobs (and Apple shareholders) would be happy if everyone used an iPod/iPhone/iWhatever for all of their information/entertainment needs. So don’t be hatin’ the guy for being the leading advocate for the company’s products/services.

    …Just be aware: That’s exactly what he’s doing, so take it with a grain of salt.

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