So said Apple's Steve Jobs earlier this week. I don't doubt the various surveys and reports that show adults are reading fewer books these days, but I would contend that overall, most are reading more content; much of that is online, of course, in the form of articles, blogs, etc. Using myself as an example, I read about the same number of books per year that I have for the past few years, but I find myself inundated with RSS feeds and other sources that I struggle to keep up with.
Jobs was making the point that it would be silly for Apple to produce an e-book device. As he put it, "the whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore." Didn't he also downplay the attractiveness of the cellphone market not too long ago, and then the iPhone appeared? I'm not suggesting Apple has some e-book device in the works, but it's interesting to look back at these kind of statements.
More importantly, I think any e-book device that is strictly built for books is flawed. This model needs to focus on content, not books. While the Kindle is mainly an e-book device, Amazon was smart enough to enable it in other ways so that it can do more than just serve up a digital book. And that's just Kindle Version 1.0.
Regardless of whether the ultimate market share winner is Amazon, Apple or someone else, this sort of device needs to serve the needs of all content acquisition and consumption, not just books. Beyond books and magazines, the vision should be that this device is your go-to, read/write tool for blogs and all social networks, for example. That sounds like a laptop, doesn't it? Well, if someone can create an ultra-thin laptop with e-ink technology and a great e-content fulfillment service behind it, they might just have something there...