Reality Distortion Alert: People don’t read anymore.

I recently read an article in which Steve Jobs said that people don’t read anymore:

“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.”

But… I want this:

Apple eReader

And here’s why…

Do You Read?

It made me think of how much I actually read. In the past years I probably fell into the category of one book or less a year but I never really thought about all the other things I read as entertainment, education or just to be able to do my job. While it might be right that some people probably don’t read many books, what about all the other bits of information we read on a day to day basis and more often than not we read it on an LCD screen and ruin our eyes. I work 99% of my time at a computer and once I’m done for the day with my work, I study, learn or relax and read on (you probably guessed it) a computer screen. Newspapers, magazines, blog posts, manuals, tutorials and books: I think it’s safe to say that many people are still reading even if the information is not necessarily in book form (and therefore probably harder to sell).


It’s hard to deny that the media industry is (still) changing because of the Internet and it couldn’t catch up with the demand. iTunes and some other major distributors offer convenient digital downloads of music, TV series and movies at a more or less reasonable price. I recently searched for a way to buy a TV show download so I read through all terms and conditions of various providers and it’s the same everywhere: “This service is not available for people outside the United States.” And while I’m sure there’s one or two good reasons for that, I still think it’s a bold statement for an industry that is complaining about the lack of sales because of the Internet.

The main scenarios I would think of are:

  1. The studios want to sell their shows to TV channels worldwide and can therefore not sell episodes to the customer before it’s been aired in their country (up to 1 year later).
  2. International copyright issues in countries where they already have contracts with TV channels

And I’m sure there are more valid reasons, but if you look at it from the customer’s point of view: They went as far as suing the customer directly for downloading illegal copies but the won’t go straight to the customer to offer their product as a legal download. Apple’s recent updates have shown similar narrow minded approach. My iPod classic shows a menu item for my rentals even-though it doesn’t look like Australia is getting movie rentals in iTunes soon, not to mention the story of the iPhone…

So what about reading?

How can you fit the topic of reading into all this? I bought an eBook recently and it cost me $60 (for a file download which I’m not even allowed to print out). So it looks like some things are available internationally but at completely ridiculous price points. And the stores, formats and prices are all over the place. Pretty much like the pre-iTunes times of legal music downloads.

Let’s get to the point

I want to be able to purchase a subscription to an international magazine or newspaper and get it downloaded to a reading device. Paying $20 for a printed international magazine is not reasonable at all. This would quickly justify purchasing a device for reading even if it’s priced like current higher end eReaders. If you look at the iTunes model again, you could compare books to movie purchases, magazines to albums and blogs to podcasts. A good mix of free and paid content.

E-ink is a must and so is a color display! At this stage I’m only aware of prototypes of color e-ink displays but several manufacturers seem to work on them and constantly releasing new hardware with better resolutions and more features. Right now I really like the iRex Iliad eventhough the interface (just like pretty much every e-ink device) seems to be a bit clunky.

My perfect eReader:

  • color e-ink display
  • wireless access
  • pen input
  • open to various formats
  • automatic download of subscribed content
  • not trying to be a fake book but a device in its own right

We know that Apple can make thin devices now. And I hope they will try to tackle the e-reader business at some point too. Until then we can keep dreaming:

Apple eReader


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I've always been interested in all kinds of art because I felt the need to express myself in many different ways. I paint, draw, create 3D models, motion graphics & designs of all sorts, play guitar, love photography and whatever else is in between... I was born in Hungary and lived in Hungary, Germany, Australia and the UK for a number of years. I speak German, English and a little Hungarian (I'm working on improving that one again!).

2 thoughts on “Reality Distortion Alert: People don’t read anymore.”

  1. Some of the things I like about the new Kindle 2

    *Page turn – the page turn is much faster than it was with the Kindle 1.
    *16 shades of gray – the screen is much more crisp and detailed.
    *Archive – very easy to move ebooks from Amazon to the Kindle 2.
    *Next page and other buttons – very easy to use. No more accidental page turns.

    The one thing I am not sure about

    *Size of Kindle 2 – it is very slim. I think I will prefer reading with it in a cover.

    I read for several hours last night and I really like it. The buttons really are much better.

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