Is Steve Jobs right about reading?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
In dismissing the Kindle, Steve said, "It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year." I'd like to take an informal poll of AI forum visitors, at least.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,425member
    I don't read long form stuff anymore like novels. More like tech stuff and articles. It's a shame.
  • Reply 2 of 26
    I read less than I did. It's the internets. Ruined my concen...hey what's that?
  • Reply 3 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,361moderator
    I get frustrated by books because of their lack of a search function.



    This helps more for reference texts than story books but I only use references these days and they are mostly PDFs. I have about 200 or so.



    I actually can't remember the last time I saw someone reading a book. I see people using laptops, listening to music, watching TVs, playing video games, getting drunk and falling about, no books.



    I don't even see as many newspapers because the news on the internet is more up to date and you can get that on your phone now.



    The one occasion I see a use for books is if you don't own a laptop and you need to read in the toilet. I'm personally never in there long enough for it to be worthwhile.



    I would love to be able to sync PDFs to my iphone though so I could read them anywhere. In fact, not even syncing as this is limited to one machine, just be able to use the iphone for storage and be able to open the files in this location on the phone.



    I'm a bit of a minimalist and books take up a lot of room so they aren't an efficient use of storage. The average size of my ebooks is about 5MB. This means that something the size of my pocket-sized iphone can hold about 1500 books. Much more if they are text-only books.



    The prices are way too high though:



    digital = http://www.ebooks.com/ebooks/book_di...asp?IID=342400 = $39.99

    analog = http://www.amazon.com/Cocoa-Programm.../dp/0321503619 = $31.49



    Amazon have a good thing by pricing their own kindle versions lower but iphone books would help increase volume and hopefully lower costs.
  • Reply 4 of 26
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Wow, it's looking like Steve wasn't lying with the poll right now showing more than 70% not reading much. I'm ashamed to say it's been many years since I read my last novel. There are several waiting on the shelves. I did read nonfiction books up until a few years ago, but gave them up due to lack of time, too. Still have several of those which I'd really like to get to, as well. The only long-form I do nowadays are CD audiobooks. Unabridged, of course. Marvin brings up an interesting idea. What if one could fuse and synchronize an audiobook and ebook? You could have the easy multitasking potential of listening rather than reading but also the searchability of an ebook. Search for a term, look through the results, then pick a point near a result to start listening from. Even switch back and forth between audio and reading on a small screen. It wouldn't take that much work, just some continuous speech recognition using something like Dragon to sync the audio with the original text. Damn, I should patent this.
  • Reply 5 of 26
    I probably read 50 - 100 books a year (depending on the length of the book.) Mostly fiction novels, sometimes something of a political nature (not sold as fiction, but I often think they should be .) And sometimes a technical or strictly educational tome.



    I've read a couple books from my iPhone... when I can find them in pdf format... I find "File Magnet" to be a handy reading app.

    I'd read more from the phone if i could find the books I'm interested in a format that would work with that reader (and no DRM... but that's been discussed in another thread.)



    The kicker is, most of my reading material comes from the library... so I'm not about to pay more than a buck or so for an electronic book when the paperback is not all that difficult to tote around.
  • Reply 6 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    No, he's wrong. Even if that's his actual opinion. Just bought a book today. Reading 4 life!
  • Reply 7 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,361moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    What if one could fuse and synchronize an audiobook and ebook? You could have the easy multitasking potential of listening rather than reading but also the searchability of an ebook. Search for a term, look through the results, then pick a point near a result to start listening from. Even switch back and forth between audio and reading on a small screen. It wouldn't take that much work, just some continuous speech recognition using something like Dragon to sync the audio with the original text. Damn, I should patent this.



    That sounds really useful, it wouldn't even have to do recognition in real-time but add markers to page and possibly line numbers when the audio track is being made. Then a search term would come up with the location of the text and jump to the nearest previous marker in the audio. You could fast forward a bit if it's not exact.



    This is a flaw with normal books because if you miss or forget a point that was made or maybe wonder about a character who you don't recognise, you can't quickly skip back to the point where they were introduced.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland


    Just bought a book today.



    Playboy is really more a magazine. Thing is people still read magazines even if most people don't read books and they haven't really transitioned to digital form. Our society seems to be a disposable one and books aren't of that nature, unlike newspapers and magazines.



    One day we will just have wifi everywhere and e-paper like this:



    http://www.physorg.com/news152290910.html
  • Reply 8 of 26
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    I read a bit of magazines now and then (PC gaming related, Economist) and some local newspapers. That's it. The rest is teh Intarwebs.
  • Reply 9 of 26
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    ...The one occasion I see a use for books is if you don't own a laptop and you need to read in the toilet. I'm personally never in there long enough for it to be worthwhile...



    Yeah, I never got the whole reading on the toilet thing. I guess my digestive system is luckily efficient enough... When I gotta go, I generally gotta go. No sitting there and waiting, twiddling my thumbs, reading or anything else.
  • Reply 10 of 26
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    That sounds really useful, it wouldn't even have to do recognition in real-time but add markers to page and possibly line numbers when the audio track is being made. Then a search term would come up with the location of the text and jump to the nearest previous marker in the audio. You could fast forward a bit if it's not exact.



    Actually, I wasn't thinking real-time recognition. That would be a waste of CPU cycles. I was thinking something like a timecode created as part of the data stream when the audiobook is being recorded, just like video has a SMPTE timecode during production. So every word in the text would have its own timecode in the audiobook, created by the speech recognition, which should actually have an easy time of it. Unlike regular speech transcription, it would already know what the text is supposed to be since it should be provided with the original text file. It just needs to say, "He just said something like 'lugubrious,' which was the third word in paragraph 2 on page 44 according to the text file and it happened at 25 minutes 47 seconds." It doesn't even need to guess from context or anything. They can even process existing audiobooks, assuming the audio quality is good enough. That way, it needs to be done only once at the source rather than every time on every playback device, many of which would be too underpowered for speech recognition. A small, maybe four line display would let you quickly choose where you want to start listening from once you pick a search result. It may be a few words, sentences or paragraphs before the word or even the beginning of the chapter.



    Hey, Audible.com, do this and I wouldn't even take much in terms of royalties. Or better yet, Kindle 3.0, anyone? Nah. This is too hot for kindling. "Furnace"? "Kiln"? "Bessemer Converter"! I dub this concept Enhanced Audiobook and I'm heading for the US Patent and Trademark Office as we speak.
  • Reply 11 of 26
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    People read all the goddam time. You are reading right now.
  • Reply 12 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin


    Playboy is really more a magazine.



    Oh you.
  • Reply 13 of 26
    I have read quite a few books, but it's mainly because I travel a lot and need something to do on United flights.



    I'd also like to make the point that modern novels are trash. The authors must get paid by the page or something, because they are mostly too long, with plots that wander around aimlessly. The word processor, I assume, has stripped away a lot of the discretion in authoring, just as the cell phone has rendered unnecessary prior planning for general life events.
  • Reply 14 of 26
    vandilvandil Posts: 187member
    I read websites & magazines. I did read all four Twilight books in 2008.



    My wife reads at least 1-2 books per day.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Currently 40.91% say one book or less in the poll. Wow. Steve was right on the nose with his 40% figure!
  • Reply 16 of 26
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,840member
    I primarily read tech, news, and sports articles. The days of people reading books are numbered. People have other things to do. I'm not saying they have better constructive things to do...just I guess most would rather be doing something else. And yes, it is a shame IMO. I'm as guilty as anyone.



    I think Steve is right on a lot of accounts. He's really a brilliant person to know what people want and don't want IMO. Thats not to say he never misses the mark every once in a while.
  • Reply 17 of 26
    I've got dozens of books waiting to be read. I'm in the middle of 4 of different subjects concurrently.



    For personal reading: Just finishing The Egyptian, by Waltari.

    I just finished Chaos, Making a New Science, by James Gleick.

    I'm halfway through PHP and PostgreSQL 8, by Gilmore, Treat.

    I'm at the end of One River, by Wade Davis.



    I'm about to start Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.

    I will also be reading Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey.



    For more serious refresher I've just cracked open, Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter.



    I'm actually refreshing my core curriculum of my degrees: everything from Calculus I through PDE/ODE, to Tensor Calculus, through Mechanics, Thermo/Fluids, Machine Design, to C/C++/ObjC/ObjC++, State Machines, Algorithm Design and more.



    Being divorced affords one time to refresh their years of toil they spent to get ahead in life.
  • Reply 18 of 26
    its hard to find time ..and I used to love reading .. sometimes for informational purposes the short form is just easier i.e blogs, magazines, news, etc but for an indepth story the internet cannot replace a good book
  • Reply 19 of 26
    groveratgroverat Posts: 10,872member
    There seems to be an idea that people are reading less than they used to. This assumes that the regular readership of books was ever much higher than it is now. Regular book-reading has never been a majority activity.



    Reading, as an activity, is far more prevalent now than it has ever been. And that will only increase.



    Steve knows computers, but nothing else. Mr. "Cities will be redesigned for the Segway" should keep his prognostications to the world of simple, shiny consumer goods.
  • Reply 20 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by groverat


    Steve knows computers, but nothing else. Mr. "Cities will be redesigned for the Segway" should keep his prognostications to the world of simple, shiny consumer goods.



    His statement was so general, in a way, he was bound to be right on some level. Really though (I'd say) he said it as he was a friend of Woz, who was one of its engineers.
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