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Summary:

While there are plenty of iPhone line-standers poking at a variety of digital devices to pass the hours, a number of iWaiters are working on their summer reading lists with some books. You remember books, right? Square-ish things made of dead trees with words (often written […]

While there are plenty of iPhone line-standers poking at a variety of digital devices to pass the hours, a number of iWaiters are working on their summer reading lists with some books. You remember books, right? Square-ish things made of dead trees with words (often written by dead people) in them?

Steve Jobs doesn’t seem to have much faith in books. He told the NYTimes earlier this year: “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.”

Looking at the lines forming in front of Apple stores everywhere, it seems many of Jobs’s own customers are still bibliophiles. A quick poll of the Monday lunch-hour line at Apple’s flagship San Francisco store yielded a diversity of titles:

“The Pillars of the Earth” – Ken Follet
“You Can’t Win” – Jack Black
“Ulysses” – James Joyce
“The Conquest of Bread” – Peter Kropotkin
“Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich” – Robert Frank
“Snow Blind” – Robert Sabbag
“Dérive à Partir de Marx et Freud” – J. F. Lyotard

One booking-toting iPhone customer told me: “Books might be dead, but reading isn’t.”

What do you think? What reading material did you bring to the iPhone line?

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  1. I don’t an iPhone line here in Israel (and that’s unfortunate). Anyway, although I’m only 18 and my buddies long ago stopped reading at all (I mean, reading in the sense of understanding what they’re reading. They tend to forget that reading is all about comprehending), I still continue to read like crazy, but only informative books (science books for the most pat). People just don’t get it. As big as the internet is, it’s just impossible to dig up information on the internet in the clear and concentrated form of an informative book. If I want to found out a specific fact instantly, I most likely search it online, but if I want to study molecular biology in more depth, the internet is useless, in my opinion.

  2. Thats funny, I waited so long I got through a good 4 chapters of cryptonomicon by neil stephenson.

  3. What’s interesting is that here is a line full of early adopters, people who like being on the cutting edge of technology, smack dab in the middle of the tech capital of the world, and how many Kindles do you see? I saw none & I visited all the Apple stores in the Bay Area because my company was handing out iPhone T-shirts to those waiting in line on Thu night & Fri morning. While Steve Jobs may not be right about our reading habits, his commentary about the Kindle was spot on.

  4. George Burke Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Reading most certainly is not dead. Although the iPhone and other e-reading devices aren’t yet the best for reading, there still needs to be a shift in the way we get our reading material. I run a book rental service — BookSwim.com — that rents books in a Netflix-style format with no due dates or late fees and free shipping back and forth.

    It would have been fun to hand out some free books to people waiting in line at the Apple store all day (by the way, I waited 1/2 hour in line before giving up and going home).

    -George

  5. We early adopters have grown scales over the years. That’s why some of us are just now reading about Marx and Frued, and in French so certain people don’t know. Aside from that, the Kindle is a butt-ugly product which is technically inferior to other failing eBook readers on the market. I suspect, as should most people, that this time next year a good Kindle-sized touch tablet could be the killer tech.

  6. I actually did bring a book with me as it was the only thing I could think of that wouldn’t run out of battery…I read voraciously online and only read non-fiction, this was the first time in years I had to rely on an actual physical book but it was a nostalgic experience,…btw, the book was ‘Maximum City’ by Suketu Mehta…

  7. And it was Jobs who once said that Phone market was also not lucrative and Apple wont get into it and then ROKR happened and then iPhone.

    bottomline: never believe what he says because he is speaking of present but not of Apple’s future which he has otherwise clearly thought of in his mind already.

  8. Those iPhone Lines are definitly intense. But as far as the reading part goes, I definitly agree with the “book-toting iPhone customer”. Maybe not so much books, but reading is still in; whether it be a magazine, online journal, or one of those new e-readers.

  9. Somebody was actually pretending to read Ulysses while waiting in line for an iphone?

    That’s the geek equivalent of guys wearing sunglasses in the dance club. Come on now, you’re not fooling anybody.

  10. I didn’t read since I had three children to distract me during the hourlong wait (Portland, day three). One of whom suggested that I wait a month or two and then there would be no line. Or maybe wait another year when there’d be an even better iPhone available. This same child has taken it upon herself to banish TV and computers for a week from the household. Lots of reading going on there with the 11-, 15-, and 17-year-olds. Kids these days.

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