So what’s really up with Apple and E?
Could this be at least part of the reason why the e-book-fit tablet somehow never materializes? The New York Times interviewed Jobs and reported:
“Today 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.'”
Part of the literacy problem?
Hmm. Could Jobs and Apple be part of the problem—at least through omission? His company is well wired into the U.S. educational system and years ago could have pushed a Newton-type tablet for reading. No, Apple can’t single-handedly turn American schools around. But what if Jobs used his marketing skills just a little less to plug multimedia—and a lot more to champion e-books (and suitable preparation for teachers and librarians, so E would be blended into the curricula)? It’s no secret that kids are gravitating toward screens. They may go to the libraries, but all too often it’s the computer terminals rather than the books they’re lining up for. Reading Web pages on a screen isn’t the same as enjoying a p- or e-book—and the sustained thoughts of the writer, followed by the reader’s own. So give us that tablet, please, ideally at an affordable price.
I’m writing this while taking Jobs at face value. With Apple you never know; Jobs has been known to indulge in his share of disinforming. I’d love him to do the rumored tablet or at least to encourage the development of good e-book software for the iPhone.
Meanwhile perhaps the MacBook Air, the Twiggy-thin laptop, can be used as an e-book reader. But it’s not the same as a tablet and the price is certainly beyond K-12 budgets. Come on, Steve. You can do better. Your company put out the Big Bro commercial against IBM. What better recipe for an Orwellian society than an illiterate, ignorant citizenry?
Related: My review of the XO, where I complain that the current startup screen on the OLPC machine disses books despite the impressive display. The hardware itself is superb for E purposes, and FBReader is a nice fix for those comfortable with it.