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Steve Jobs biography sells 380K US copies in first week

post #1 of 43
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The newly released authorized biography of Steve Jobs moved nearly 380,000 copies in its first week in the U.S. alone, already making it one of the best selling titles of 2011.

Data from BookScan US revealed that Walter Isaacson's book, entitled "Steve Jobs," sold a total of 379,000 copies in its first week in America, according to TheBookseller.com. It outsold the next-best selling title, "The Litigators" by John Grisham, by more than three to one.

The next closest nonfiction title was "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O'Reilly, and Isaacson's detailed retelling of the life of Jobs outsold that by almost eight to one. "Steve Jobs" is already the 18th best selling book of 2011, ahead of "The Confession" by John Grisham. Sales of the book in the U.K. were also high in the first week, with 37,244 copies sold.

Signs that the book was poised to become a huge hit surfaced last week, on its first day of sales, when the world's largest online retailer, Amazon.com, said "Steve Jobs" may become the top selling book of 2011. A spokeswoman for the retailer said Isaacson's book was, after just one day, on pace to outsell every other book sold by the company.

In addition to being a top seller in hardcover at Amazon, it has also been the No. 1 title on the company's Kindle platform, and on Apple's iBooks.



News of high sales of the biography come as Jobs is also set to be the subject of a new documentary airing tonight on PBS. Entitled "Steve Jobs - One last Thing," it will air at 10 p.m. Eastern, and will be the first broadcast of a 1994 interview in which Jobs detailed the philosophy of his life.
post #2 of 43
I'm a little over half-way through. It is FANTASTIC. Beautifully written.

I knew Steve Jobs was an asshole to a lot of people, but I'm really dumbfounded by some of the things he did and how he acted, particularly when he was younger. And the book does a terrific job presenting things to us rather objectively, without painting him either as some great hero or a villain.

I'm going to have to pick up Isaacson's earlier biographies soon.
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post #3 of 43
I decided to get the Audible version and listen to Steve Jobs being read on one of Steve's products, my iPod Touch. I thought that was rather appropriate... Thank you Steve!
post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post

I'm a little over half-way through. It is FANTASTIC. Beautifully written.

I knew Steve Jobs was an asshole to a lot of people, but I'm really dumbfounded by some of the things he did and how he acted, particularly when he was younger. And the book does a terrific job presenting things to us rather objectively, without painting him either as some great hero or a villain.

I'm going to have to pick up Isaacson's earlier biographies soon.

I have read a couple of Einstein biographies and Isaacson's is the best by far in my opinion. I'm about a third of way through the Jobs biography and I am astonished at his obsession with design and the notion that something should look just as good on the inside too, even if nobody sees it.

You can love or hate Jobs, take your pick, but you simply cannot deny that he affected all users of technology. After the multi-colored iMacs came out it didn't take long at all for other appliances to emulate the design look and feel. Let the Fandroids rant and rave but, after the iPod, iPhone, and now iPad, everything looks like these Apple products.
post #5 of 43
I'm about half way through as well. The more you read about the man, his quirks and flaws, he was not perfect, but his genius was unquestioned. The way he infused himself into his products. No one but Jobs could have done half the things he was able to.

Will Apple grow and prosper post Jobs? I guess, we will find out. One thing is for certain, the drive and dedication he drew from his employees will never be replaceced. The reality distortion field may have been the stuff of legend, and scorn, but, it made Apple what is is today. Let's see if Tim Cook has a little "RDF" of his own......
post #6 of 43
I have read the book two times.
Its a great, great book.

The "one more thing" chapter made me cry.

I still can't believe that Steve is gone.
post #7 of 43
I read it on my iPhone. Great read.
post #8 of 43
I'm half way through, first book I have ever read on my iPad. I have followed Steve Jobs for more than 30 years yet most of the information in the book is completely new to me. I will miss Steve forever.

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post #9 of 43
Do thee figures include digital dowloads too?
iPad, Macbook Pro, iPhone, heck I even have iLife! :-)
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post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by shompa View Post

I have read the book two times.

They should rereads the way Android defenders count activations as sales.
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post #11 of 43
I've almost finished the book and I've found it disappointing. The parts covering the early days of Apple and the Mac are a cookie cutter regurgitation of stuff that has been written before. It's really bizarre to read it since Jobs just kind of drops in from time to time (Isaacson obviously relied heavily on Hertzfeld's account) and there's no attempt to reassess Jobs's early contributions at Apple in light of his return (which is absolutely essential and needs to be done; I think Isaacson really missed an opportunity there). The stuff on NeXT, too, is rather weak (for example, Isaacson focuses on the short-lived, failed hardware division and repeats Gates's claim that Apple never used any of NeXT's technology). The short account of Pixar and Jobs's role in its success is much more successful, perhaps because there was less existing material to draw from.

The last 1/3rd has been more interesting because there's a lot of new material but Isaacson still struggles to integrate Jobs's personality with his achievements in a convincing way.
post #12 of 43
For anybody sitting on the fence, here's a list:

It's a lot of fun, at least the first third. Some good laughs.

Easy to read, absolutely no intrusion from the author, just story after story.

I knew much of it before, but Isaacson's retelling make it seem fresh.

Much new painful detail about Steve, at least to me, but always you see how maybe his ruthless drive is what was needed to get the high level of inspiration into the products. And his victims, the poor engineers around him, seem to say it was worth it in the end.

I have the feeling the best is yet to come. I hope it's the best-selling bio of all time because it really is the story of a defining moment, or a defining lifetime, in our history.
post #13 of 43
Apple wouldn't be where it's at right now if Steve wasn't the biggest asshole in the planet.

Getting Apple and Pixar to where it's at (add juggling between the company) cost Steve his life.
post #14 of 43
Steve's death was the best thing to ever happen to Isaccson or Simon & Shuster.
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post


I'm going to have to pick up Isaacson's earlier biographies soon.

He writes very well. I'm interested in the Einstein bio.
post #16 of 43
It was an insanely great book and I hope it sells millions more.
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post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

You can love or hate Jobs, take your pick,

It is likely that the vast majority of people neither loves nor hates him.

He's just some random businessman to most - they care about him about as much as they care about the CEO of any other giant corporation.

Do you imagine that people love or hate, say, for example, Warren Buffet? Rex Tillerson? Howard Stringer?

Most of these CEO-types don't even register on people's radar. They may have heard of Jobs, and they might even know which company he used to run. But love? Hate?

More like passing interest, at most.
post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

It is likely that the vast majority of people neither loves nor hates him.

He's just some random businessman to most - they care about him about as much as they care about the CEO of any other giant corporation.

Do you imagine that people love or hate, say, for example, Warren Buffet? Rex Tillerson? Howard Stringer?

Most of these CEO-types don't even register on people's radar. They may have heard of Jobs, and they might even know which company he used to run. But love? Hate?

More like passing interest, at most.

You have an amazing ability to reduce any subject matter to the mundane and tedious.
post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Commodification View Post

It was an insanely great book and I hope it sells millions more.

Even in death the consummate salesman outsells everybody. I wonder how the Bio will affect Apple sales. SJ apparently said he wanted the book written so that his children could learn about him - understand why he wasn't always there for them. I don't doubt he said that or the he meant it but I wonder if somehow the salesman in him knew that it would be a surefire way to keep the buzz going well beyond his own time.
post #20 of 43
How quickly they translated the book into British
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

Steve's death was the best thing to ever happen to Isaccson or Simon & Shuster.

As was Michael Jackson's for his estate and even Amy Winehouse's for hers. Something about the passing of a celebrity or celebrity type that drives people to want to buy their music, read their biography, watch their movie, etc... Makes me wonder if Heath Ledger would still have won the Oscar had he not died.
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

Apple wouldn't be where it's at right now if Steve wasn't the biggest asshole in the planet.

Getting Apple and Pixar to where it's at (add juggling between the company) cost Steve his life.

The jury is still out for me as to how much of an impact Steve had on Pixar. Creatively, he really didn't do that much. The biography describes his as "the deal guy" and he also kept Pixar afloat with his own money. Perhaps they would have gotten screwed by Disney without SJ, but that creative spark was Lasseter.

Of course, I'm not trying to take anything away from SJ and I give credit where credit is due. Oh, and getting Apple and Pixar to where they're at didn't kill Steve. It might have hastened his passing, but it didn't kill him. Chapter 35 explains what most likely did.
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abracadabra View Post

How quickly they translated the book into British

How does that go? Is it like the Australian version: "Crikey!," Steve said about Android stealing from Apple, "I'm gonna fry them like a shrimp on the barbie."?
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post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

How does that go? Is it like the Australian version, Crikey!," Steve said about Android stealing from Apple, "I'm gonna fry them like a shrimp on the barbie."?

Is that like when Steve said, "that's not a tablet, (pulls out iPad) now that's a tablet." ?
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Is that like when Steve said, "that's not a tablet, (pulls out iPad) now that's a tablet."

You win!
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post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

You have an amazing ability to reduce any subject matter to the mundane and tedious.

Why not respond to the content? Or not? Why just throw personal insults into the mix?




I really believe that the vast majority of people don't much care about Steve Jobs, not even when he was alive, and that the number of people who do care about him, one way or the other, will drop off rapidly over the next few weeks.

He is not like Thomas Edison, who changed the world with his inventions like the light bulb. Apple makes entertaining gadgets, not life-changing, world changing things.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Is that like when Steve said, "that's not a tablet, (pulls out iPad) now that's a tablet."

LOL...that is awesome. You sir, win.
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

He is not like Thomas Edison, who changed the world with his inventions like the light bulb. Apple makes entertaining gadgets, not life-changing, world changing things.

I see you're still rewriting history and spreading FUD, but I'll file this one under you just not being bright enough to know the difference between inventing and practicalizing a previously invention, which is probably why you get upset at Apple for making the previous unpractical practical, because you can't differentiate between the two.
"Edison['s company] did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light." Did Apple under Steve Jobs invent the tablet? No. Did the invent the multi-touch capacitive touchscreen? No. But did they make these practical? Absolutely. Though I'd say Gates and Edison are more inline as businessmen who had no class or style.

PS: The more interesting story is how the current and un-arguably much superior design of the screw-on lightbulb after Edison refused to license his patents to the much more brilliant (though poor in business) Nkola Telsa due to a childish jealously. If Isaacson wrote a biography of Tesla I'd read that.
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post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You win!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freshmaker View Post

LOL...that is awesome. You sir, win.

Aw shucks guys.
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by poke View Post

I've almost finished the book and I've found it disappointing. The parts covering the early days of Apple and the Mac are a cookie cutter regurgitation of stuff that has been written before. It's really bizarre to read it since Jobs just kind of drops in from time to time (Isaacson obviously relied heavily on Hertzfeld's account) and there's no attempt to reassess Jobs's early contributions at Apple in light of his return (which is absolutely essential and needs to be done; I think Isaacson really missed an opportunity there). The stuff on NeXT, too, is rather weak (for example, Isaacson focuses on the short-lived, failed hardware division and repeats Gates's claim that Apple never used any of NeXT's technology). The short account of Pixar and Jobs's role in its success is much more successful, perhaps because there was less existing material to draw from.

The last 1/3rd has been more interesting because there's a lot of new material but Isaacson still struggles to integrate Jobs's personality with his achievements in a convincing way.

This is dead on. I've finished the book and as someone who has followed and read about Apple for years, this book seemed profoundly scant on details. This book is the blandest thing I've read in a long time considering how many strong personalities were supposed to be involved. I bought it and if there's some way to donate my digital copy to a library it would already be there. It felt more like a long magazine profile than an in depth book.

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post #31 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


you're still rewriting history and spreading FUD

you just not being bright enough

you get upset



[No response to this sort of off-topic nastiness.]



Quote:
If Isaacson wrote a biography of Tesla I'd read that.

Me too. I've read several already, but none of them very well-written. I've also read a bunch of transcripts of Tesla's speeches, and I've developed a lot of respect for the man.

Based solely upon the Jobs bio, I think Isaccson writes well, and he seems to be willing to explore the complexities at the core of the subject. He did not shy away, for example, from Steve's horrible personality defects. Instead, he used them to contrast his success as a businessman and CEO.

Tesla was also a complex individual. Very bright, extremely innovative, but a poor businessman. There is no indication that he was a jerk in his personal life, however.
post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Even in death the consummate salesman outsells everybody. I wonder how the Bio will affect Apple sales. SJ apparently said he wanted the book written so that his children could learn about him - understand why he wasn't always there for them. I don't doubt he said that or the he meant it but I wonder if somehow the salesman in him knew that it would be a surefire way to keep the buzz going well beyond his own time.

He also knew others were going to make millions of $$ selling books about him after he died so he beat them to it and his family gets the dough instead.
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post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

Why not respond to the content? Or not? Why just throw personal insults into the mix?




I really believe that the vast majority of people don't much care about Steve Jobs, not even when he was alive, and that the number of people who do care about him, one way or the other, will drop off rapidly over the next few weeks.

He is not like Thomas Edison, who changed the world with his inventions like the light bulb. Apple makes entertaining gadgets, not life-changing, world changing things.

After a while the subject becomes your incessant negativity. Why even bother comparing to Edison? Who the fuck measures level of greatness when the point was how many books haves been sold?
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

After a while the subject becomes your incessant negativity.

Well said. He casts an evil spell over every thread he dominates. And that is many a thread.

The dismissive comparison to Edison is particularly galling. Edison was an inventor. Jobs was an artist and impresario whose goal was to change human cultural evolution, which his products have only just begun to do. To the extent that Edison's inventions did, his work was more about media, less about knowledge amplification.

What I like about the Isaacson biography is that he bears down really hard on the perfectionist and aesthetic side of Jobs, who saw these attributes to be in the service of making his cultural tools attractive and delightful and thus more powerful.

This is something I don't remember getting quite so much from Andy Hertzfeld's Revolution in the Valley, for example, as great as that book was. Or from What the Dormouse Said, another great one, but not so focused on Jobs. Was the story of his dad's doctrine of hidden craftsmanship in any previous book? That is absolutely crucial to understanding Jobs and the machines we have from him. Now I know why I was shocked to see how beautiful the inside of my hemisphere iMac was when I put in its wifi card. This stuff matters like good genes matter to a plant or animal.

Edit: After a hundred more pages, including what got him thrown out of the company, lots more painful detail, the development of the NeXT hardware, the phrase "insanely great" takes on an edgier meaning -- more emphasis on the insane part, overshadowing the great part. No wonder Bill Gates could shrug off anything Jobs said about him.
post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I see you're still rewriting history and spreading FUD, but I'll file this one under you just not being bright enough to know the difference between inventing and practicalizing a previously invention, which is probably why you get upset at Apple for making the previous unpractical practical, because you can't differentiate between the two.
"Edison['s company] did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light." Did Apple under Steve Jobs invent the tablet? No. Did the invent the multi-touch capacitive touchscreen? No. But did they make these practical? Absolutely. Though I'd say Gates and Edison are more inline as businessmen who had no class or style.

PS: The more interesting story is how the current and un-arguably much superior design of the screw-on lightbulb after Edison refused to license his patents to the much more brilliant (though poor in business) Nkola Telsa due to a childish jealously. If Isaacson wrote a biography of Tesla I'd read that.

Boy, I sure would like to know more about Tesla. If Isaacson could unearth more of the information about the stuff he was working on that the government bought up the patents to keep them secret...

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post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexisNique View Post

That's not a surprise though. Steve Jobs despite its fame in the technological world remains to have a private home life. I would even be interested in his life. I know he was still a man who had encounter different trials in life. I would really wan to know how he handled these problems to inspire me in facing my problems as well.

Buy his biographical e-book and all of these vexing questions will be answered in one magical reading!

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post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Boy, I sure would like to know more about Tesla. If Isaacson could unearth more of the information about the stuff he was working on that the government bought up the patents to keep them secret...

There's just 2 things you need to know about Tesla:

1. He made a kick-ass album called The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.
2. He was the brain child behind the copier. He made a scores of copies of High Jackman.



Edit: I would love to read a Tesla bio by Isaacson. I'm halfway through Steve's bio and it is a very interesting read so far. I just don't feel like putting it down.
post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestKeptSecret View Post

There's just 2 things you need to know about Tesla:

1. He made a kick-ass album called The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.
2. He was the brain child behind the copier. He made a scores of copies of High Jackman.



Edit: I would love to read a Tesla bio by Isaacson. I'm halfway through Steve's bio and it is a very interesting read so far. I just don't feel like putting it down.

For those not getting his reference, it from the 2006 film The Prestige where David Bowie plays Nikola Tesla and Hugh Jackman plays a magician. If you haven't seen the film I suggest you check it out without reading up on it. I think you'll enjoy it.
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post #39 of 43
I have finished the book, and I also am disappointed. There are few good bits the involvement of Ellison for example is news to me. Seems they both hate google and MS.
The one thing I have learnt from it is I'm too nice with fools around me. I will act more like Jobs when needed trying NOT be a total asshole at it. Its a tough balancing act though.

Most assholes rarly get to be CEO because they never get promoted into postions where they alienate too many people . The company I work for has a few nasty assholes (who are very intelligent and knowelgeable, but have zero social skills) and have been shunted off to the side to keep them from destroying the teams.

Jobs was one of the few just like these people but because he made himself into a CEO was able to make people's lives around him unbearable. I doubt that Apple will be able to keep his legacy going because it will become balkanized without him. It's only a question of time before the in fighting starts to eat away at the culture he enforced.

I plan to start reducing my stock in APPL as this happens, I guess the process will be really starting by end of 2012. A lot will depends on Android competition and how it affects the revenues and also how well the apple HDTV/siri project is implemented and is marketed without him.

I find it ironic that he died of cancer, because employees who are like him are just like cancers too. Sad! Imagine if he could have done all this without needing to be an asshole!

Quote:
Originally Posted by poke View Post

I've almost finished the book and I've found it disappointing. The parts covering the early days of Apple and the Mac are a cookie cutter regurgitation of stuff that has been written before. It's really bizarre to read it since Jobs just kind of drops in from time to time (Isaacson obviously relied heavily on Hertzfeld's account) and there's no attempt to reassess Jobs's early contributions at Apple in light of his return (which is absolutely essential and needs to be done; I think Isaacson really missed an opportunity there). The stuff on NeXT, too, is rather weak (for example, Isaacson focuses on the short-lived, failed hardware division and repeats Gates's claim that Apple never used any of NeXT's technology). The short account of Pixar and Jobs's role in its success is much more successful, perhaps because there was less existing material to draw from.

The last 1/3rd has been more interesting because there's a lot of new material but Isaacson still struggles to integrate Jobs's personality with his achievements in a convincing way.
post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul94544 View Post

I have finished the book, and I also am disappointed.

. . .

I plan to start reducing my stock in APPL as this happens, I guess the process will be really starting by end of 2012. A lot will depends on Android competition and how it affects the revenues and also how well the apple HDTV/siri project is implemented and is marketed without him.

What a bundle of negative contradictions we have here. The corrosive, mad CEO (I refuse to indulge in the American fetish for the word a'hole) departs, and instead of expecting the company to refocus and flourish under more benign leadership, you predict "Balkanization."

Depressive on its face. Chin up! The whole point of the book so far -- I'm halfway -- is that Jobs enforced a kind of natural selection on the people around him. Only the strongest, smartest, most dedicated survived. Those who could see past his scalding personality into the product's ethical and aesthetic mandates, as he saw them and they came to see as well, stayed to the finish.

As a result, Apple is now a product machine forged more in line with Jobs's goal of "changing the world" -- that phrase should be in the index -- than by kowtowing to Jobs's flawed ego.

Why were you disappointed by the book? Maybe by your dread of the future. Apple's drama is only beginning its second act. Expect great things.

Sorry for the tone, but I also have no patience anymore for the current fetish for doom, especially when it is reflexively applied to Apple's future. Not just you; we see it a lot here. This is serious business. The future of American innovative competence is on the line.
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