Technology

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from the L.A. Times

Category: Books

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

Apple's new iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U apps are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing

NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.

The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.

If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget -- provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.

Apple has even built into iBook Author HTML5 and Javascript support for programmers looking to take their books beyond what the app can do itself; multi-touch interactions for pinch and zoom views of photos and swiping gestures are also included.

Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.

The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible -- whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.

According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."

Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt ... but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."

In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.

But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.

On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools -- though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.

Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.

Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.

In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).

"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.

The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.

Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.

Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.

Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.

In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.

For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.

First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet -- maybe someday a TV -- what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.

iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple

Apple says iBooks 2 app reinvents textbooks

Textbooks for sale in iBooks 2 on an Apple iPad

Apple promised to reinvent the textbook and offer a new experience for students and teachers by way of an update to its iBooks app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch on Thursday.

The app update -- which Apple is calling iBooks 2 and is already released to the iOS App Store -- will allow for textbooks to be sold through the popular app, which in the past sold novels, nonfiction and poetry, but not textbooks.

All textbooks sold through the free app, which is available only to Apple's i-devices, will be priced at $14.99 or less -- a stark contrast to the high-priced paper books that fill college bookstores.

But the main allure might not be the price as much as the interactive features iBooks textbooks can offer.

Apple, which announced the iBooks update at a press event in New York at the Guggenheim Museum, said the iBooks textbook exceeds paper texts in terms of engagement, calling it a durable, quickly searchable book that offers easy highlighting and note-taking  as well as interactive photo galleries, videos, and 3-D models and diagrams.

Digital textbooks can also offer immediate feedback with questionnaires at the end of chapters and automatically create flash cards of glossary terms for a student to study.

Apple said the move makes sense given that more that 1.5 million iPads are used in schools. "Now with iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging and truly interactive way to read and learn, using the device they already love," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. 

One thing not mentioned by Apple on Thursday was any sort of program that would offer iPads at a discount to students, teachers or schools.

Apple also said there are more than 20,000 education-focused apps available in the iOS App Store.

The tech giant has enlisted the heavyweights of textbook publishing -- Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt -- to sell textbooks through iBooks 2. Combined, the three companies make 90% of textbooks sold in the U.S. Smaller publishers such as DK and the EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation will be publishing to iBooks 2 as well. 

Just as iBooks does with other types of books, textbooks will offer a free preview of a few pages or even a chapter before a purchase is made.

EO Wilson is also publishing a new book through iBooks 2 called Life on Earth, and the first two chapters of the new title will be free with more chapters coming as they are written.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

twitter.com/nateog

Image: Textbooks for sale in iBooks 2 on an Apple iPad. Credit: Apple

Barnes & Noble considering selling Nook business

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble said Thursday that it is evaluating the possible sale of its growing Nook e-reader and tablet business, which hit a record level of sales over the holiday season.

"We see substantial value in what we've built with our Nook business in only two years, and we believe it's the right time to investigate our options to unlock that value," said William Lynch, Barnes & Noble's chief executive, in a statement. "In Nook, we've established one of the world's best retail platforms for the sale of digital copyright content. We have a large and growing installed base of millions of satisfied customers buying digital content from us, and we have a Nook business that's growing rapidly year-over-year and should be approximately $1.5 billion in comparable sales this fiscal year."

"Between continued projected growth in the U.S., and the opportunity for Nook internationally in the next 12 months, we expect the business to continue to scale rapidly for the foreseeable future," Lynch said.

Shareholder's weren't particularly pleased Thursday with the idea of spinning off Barnes & Noble's Nook business into a separate company or selling the Nook unit altogether.

Shares of the New York-based company fell about 20% on the news of a possible spin off, which also came alongside word that the bookstore chain also expects "full year losses per share to be in a range of $1.40 to $1.10."

Holiday sales at Barnes & Noble retail stores rose 2.5%, to about $1.2 billion, over the last nine weeks of 2011 when compared with the same period in 2010. Meanwhile, during that period, sales of Nook devices and digital content rose 43% from a year earlier.

The company also said it was "in discussions with strategic partners including publishers, retailers, and technology companies in international markets that may lead to expansion of the Nook business abroad."

As for how long Barnes & Noble will take to decide just what it will or won't do with its Nook unit, the bookseller isn't saying.

"There can be no assurance that the review of a potential separation of the Nook digital business will result in a separation," Barnes & Noble said. "There is no timetable for the review, and the company does not intend to comment further regarding the review, unless and until a decision is made."

Barnes & Noble didn't release specific sales numbers for Nook devices, or for the sale of Nook e-books, apps and other digital content, but it did say that even in that segment of its company there is some mixed performance.

For the last nine weeks of 2011, digital content sales grew 113% from the same period 2010 and overall sales of Nook devices were up 70% from a year earlier, setting a new holiday record for the company.

But sales of the Nook Tablet "exceeded expectations, while sales of Nook Simple Touch lagged expectations, indicating a stronger customer preference for color devices," Barnes & Noble said.

[Updated 5:19 p.m.: Barnes & Noble fell Thursday $2.32, or 17%, to close at $11.23 per share.]

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Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles Times

‘Steve Jobs’ tops Amazon’s list of 10 best-selling books of 2011

Stevejobsbooks

Amazon.com on Monday announced its best-selling books of the year, and -- no surprise -- Walter Isaacson's biography of Apple visionary Steve Jobs landed in the No. 1 spot.

The online retail giant's list combined its sales of print and Kindle editions and took into account only paid copies. Books first published before 2011 were excluded.

Amazon noted that two books -- "The Mill River Recluse" by Darcie Chan (#4) and "The Abbey" by Chris Culver (#9) -- were published by Kindle Direct Publishing and made the top 10 based solely on Kindle sales.

"Steve Jobs" topped the list even though it was published just two months ago. Sales of the book "have been phenomenal in both formats," said Chris Schluep, senior editor of books at Amazon, said  that even though "Steve Jobs" was published just two months ago, sales "have been phenomenal in both formats." 

Here's the complete list: 

1. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

2. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey

3. "A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard

4. "The Mill River Recluse" by Darcie Chan

5. "In the Garden of the Beasts" by Erik Larson

6. "A Dance with Dragons" by George R.R. Martin

7. "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain

8. "The Litigators" by John Grisham

9. "The Abbey" by Chris Culver

10. "Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle)" by Christopher Paolini

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Photo: Copies of Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" at a Costco in Mountain View, Calif. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Justice Department confirms investigation of e-book industry

Ipad-iphone-books

The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust arm said it was looking into potentially unfair pricing practices by electronic booksellers, joining European regulators and state attorneys general in a widening probe of large U.S. and international e-book publishers.

At a Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on Wednesday, Sharis Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's antitrust division, said the agency was "investigating the electronic book industry" but gave fewdetails. 

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that the probe involved the possibility of "anticompetitive practices involving e-book sales."

The acknowledgment comes a day after European regulators said they were investigating five of the largest international publishers: France's Hachette Livre, News Corp.-owned Harper Collins, CBS' Simon & Schuster, Britain-based Pearson Group's Penguin and the German-owned Macmillan -- as well as Apple Inc.. Investigators said they were trying to determine whether the companies had "engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition."

Attorneys general in Connecticut and, reportedly, Texas, have also begun inquiries into the way electronic booksellers price their wares, and whether companies such as Apple and Amazon have set up pricing practices that are ultimately harmful to consumers.

When Amazon.com and its Kindle were the sole major player in the electronic book market, the company set the price of e-books at $9.99.  But publishers found that the price was artifically low and sought a way to circumvent Amazon's pricing control. 

When Apple's iPad came out last year, the company had deals in place with five major publishers to use a new pricing model, in which the publishing companies were able to set the prices and the retailers (such as Amazon and Apple) took a fixed cut of the retail cost, about 30%. 

Soon after, e-book prices on Amazon and elsewhere began to rise, and now many bestselling books retail for $14, $15, $16 or more.

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-- David Sarno

Photo: Amazon.com's Kindle Fire, right, is displayed with an Apple iPhone 4 at a Best Buy store in New York. Credit: Scott Eells / Bloomberg

EU antitrust regulators investigate Apple, e-book publishers

Kindles

European Union antitrust regulators are investigating Apple Inc. and the e-book business model it uses to sell digital titles from five of the largest international book publishers.

Officials from the European Commission said Tuesday they were looking into the fairness of e-book sales agreements made by French publisher Hachette Livre, News Corp.-owned Harper Collins, CBS' Simon & Schuster, Britain-based Pearson Group's Penguin and the German-owned Macmillan.

In 2010 these companies switched en masse to a new pricing system for e-books, called the "agency model," in which publishers wrested away from retailers the ability to set prices. Before the agency model, e-book sellers such as Amazon.com Inc. sold e-books at any price they liked, much like bricks-and-mortar bookstores. (Once bookstores have purchased books from wholesalers, they can discount or mark up the prices at will.)

In the same way, before the agency model Amazon -- then the only major player in e-books sales -- was free to set its own prices. The company used that freedom to price its Kindle books at $9.99, a price so low that the company was generally thought to be losing money on most Kindle book sales -- in the name of attracting a large group of Kindle book buyers who would be drawn to the low and consistent pricing.

But publishers did not want Amazon's cut-rate e-book sales to give the Seattle company total control of the e-book market, especially by getting customers used to buying e-books for less than the industry believed they were worth. So, at around the time when Apple's iPad debuted, the five publishers agreed to a model in which they alone could decide book prices, and booksellers such as Apple and Amazon would receive a fixed commission on each sale.

Not long after, e-book prices began to rise. At Amazon, many bestselling Kindle e-books are now priced above $9.99. For instance, only five of Amazon's 20 "best" Kindle books of the year are below $10.

That price increase may in part be what antitrust regulators are looking into. In March, EU officials raided a number of publishers, reportedly seizing contracts and executives' smartphones and computers.

"The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition," the group's statement on Tuesday said.

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Amazon looking to release a smartphone next year, analyst says

-- David Sarno

Photo: Boxes of Kindle e-readers sit ready for dispatch in a distribution center in Ridgmont, Britain.  Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

Amazon looking to release a smartphone next year, analyst says

Kindle-foneAmazon.com Inc. may be putting a smartphone on the books.

The longtime bookseller and online retailer is broadening its business to include not just electronic reading devices and tablet computers like the just-released Kindle Fire, but also handheld smartphones, according to business intelligence gleaned by Mark Mahaney, an analyst at Citi.

Mahaney says he thinks Amazon will release a mid-priced smartphone by the fourth quarter of 2012 -- one that could cost less than $200 and that will be customized to work with Amazon's digital movies, music and e-books.

"We continue to believe Amazon has now set its eyes on the mobile (and tablet) media and product
consumption frontier," Mahaney wrote in a note to investors.

Mahaney said industry whispers indicated that Amazon would be working with Foxconn International Holdings, a subsidiary of the Taiwanese company Hon Hai Precision, a global leader in electronics manufacturing that makes other Amazon products as well as Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Further scuttlebutt from Mahaney on the specifications of the tablet:

We believe the smartphone will adopt Texas Instrument's OMAP 4 processor and is very likely to adopt [Qualcomm's] dual mode 6-series standalone baseband given [Qualcomm] has been a longtime baseband supplier for Amazon's e-reader.

If the rumors are true, the phone may also have an 8-megapixel camera, a 4-inch touch screen and an HSPA+ radio -- part of the newer generations of cellular technology that allows for faster data uploading and downloading.

"With the clear success of the Kindle e-reader over the past three years, and Kindle Fire possibly succeeding in the low-priced tablet market, we view this as the next logical step for Amazon," Mahaney wrote.

His note did not mention the type of software the phone might run, but in passing he cited a possible "OS royalty to Microsoft." Because of patents it owns, Microsoft collects royalties from many manufacturers of mobile devices running Google's Android operating system. The Kindle Fire is one such Android-based device.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Image: Photo illustration using images from Plenty.r / Flickr and andyi / Flickr

Amazon Prime launches Kindle Owners' Lending Library

Amazon Kindle Owner's Lending Library

Amazon Prime has added Kindle book lending to its list of perks, alongside streaming movies and TV shows and free two-day shipping from Amazon.com.

The service, which Amazon seems to be building up as a Netflix rival and even a "Netflix for books," runs at an annual subscription price of $79.

The Seattle-based tech firm and online retail powerhouse's Kindle Owners' Lending Library allows Amazon Prime members to borrow one book a month from a specific selection that Amazon said includes "over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers." Amazon said the Lending Library has more than 5,000 titles to choose from.

Of course, in order to read the borrowed Kindle books, an Amazon Prime subscriber has to own a Kindle e-reader or have a device with a Kindle app to read the books on -- such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

Seems straightforward enough, right? Barnes & Noble has offered a similar feature called LendMe that has no cost associated with it and allows Nook owners to lend Nook books to friends for up to 14 days.

But the Kindle Owners' Lending Library isn't without its own controversy.

As noted on our sister blog Jacket Copy, Amazon "had approached publishers about participating in the program for a flat fee -- and many turned them down. Much to their surprise, their books appeared as part of the program anyway."

What Amazon's bold move mean for e-books and Kindle lending remains to be seen, but head over to Jacket Copy to read more about the growing backlash.

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Image: A screenshot of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library for Amazon Prime subscribers. Credit: Amazon.com

Google scientist's book raises real, fictional privacy concerns

In the data laboratories of the Internet's biggest companies -- the Googles, Facebooks and Yahoos of the world -- statisticians practice the mysterious art of spinning vast troves of personal consumer data into marketing gold.

BalujaAs with the famously confidential Coca-Cola recipe, the companies do not share their secret alchemical strategies for taking data gleaned from consumers' phones, tablets and PCs and using it to build intricate behavioral profiles of users, the better to sell them products they are most likely to buy.

As we wrote in our recent story on digital privacy, the lack of transparency about these practices has led to widespread concern about how Internet companies are using the information they collect -- including how long they keep the data, with whom they share it, and the types of conclusions they can make about individual behavior.

But Shumeet Baluja, a data scientist at Google, has made an end run around the wall of secrecy that protects corporate data practices. Instead of sharing Google's approach to data security and privacy, he's written a fictional account of a Google-like company -- and what happens when the wrong people get access to its huge storehouse of private information.

The book, "The Silicon Jungle," came out in the spring. Its dustjacket describes it as raising "serious ethical questions about today's technological innovations and how our most confidential activities...can be routinely pieced together into rich profiles that reveal our habits, goals and secret desires."

We asked Baluja about the story behind his book, and his own thinking on the state of consumer privacy and data collection.

How would you rate the level of awareness of the general public about what’s done with their data?

It's pretty poor.  People in general know they should be concerned about privacy, but I think very few people understand what it means to have privacy.  They certainly don't understand what data mining is, or what the capabilities are of the companies out there that are looking at their data.  This is a big impetus in writing this book: I wanted to show from a personal level to a national level -- from every level -- the ramifications of giving these little bits of data away.

Is there any way for people to figure out the kinds of data that are being collected about them?

That's absolutely key to having trust in any company at this point. How much will they actually tell you about what they’re doing with your data?  If you look at the big companies out there, the major players, we're in contact with them every day as users -- whenever we post updates or do searches, we reveal a lot about ourselves.  

A few [companies] have started allowing you to say "I would like you to get rid of some of this information you have on me.” And that’s extremely important.  Without that, I would suggest users be very careful.

But are the leading companies offering much of a window into what they're collecting?

Even when users can see the individual pieces of data they’ve given, what's harder to figure out is what inferences can be drawn from that.  And that’s what data mining is about -- drawing inferences from the small pieces of data you have.

[Those inferences] get harder to reveal because they're obviously very proprietary. So it’s a little bit of a tricky game as far as that’s concerned. 

The fact that I bought some golf shoes, or took a vacation to Hawaii, or drove home on the 405 Freeway don’t seem too interesting by themselves, but what about when you put all of the pieces together?

Well, let’s go through your example: Besides the fact of drawing inferences about where you live and your vacation habits, perhaps you could tell what your demographic status is, your income level for example.  We could look at the type of hobbies we’d expect you to have, the types of products you’d be interested in buying.  And by further looking at what you search for, what products you buy, and where you travel -- we can then revise our hypotheses.

So it’s kind of like a living profile?

Absolutely. When someone considers a profile -- it's not the case that it's created once and then forgotten about. Every interaction you have then goes back to feeding that profile and either enforcing our conclusions or making us come up with new ones.

What does Google think about the book?

As you can imagine, I’ve been very careful not to talk about my company in this interview. But Google has been extremely supportive, which has been awesome of them. That being said, talking about the book in general is fine but I’d shy away from talking about any policies they’d have.

You, someone who has been intimately involved in data mining for major companies, have written a nightmare scenario type of book about what could go wrong if all these data were leaked. Should people take your book as a warning sign, even if it is fictional?

As a scientist who's worked in this field for 15 years, I think that besides talking about the great things that have come from it, it's also important to talk about the things that could go wrong -- it’s not so much to scare, but to clearly inform people that there are consequences to sharing so much personal information.  

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Image: Cover of "The Silicon Jungle."  Used with permission of the author.

Steve Jobs: 'Lightning bolts went off in my head' about being adopted

"60 Minutes" has released the full transcript of its interview with Steve Jobs' biographer, Walter Isaacson, and the piece contains a number of largely unknown bits about Jobs' early life and adoptive parents, his wife and family, and his illness and thoughts on the afterlife. The show airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on CBS.

JobsBelow is an uncorrected excerpt from the beginning of the show in which Isaacson describes Jobs' drive for perfection, and his sometimes fiery lack of patience with people who he felt got in the way of his plans. Isaacson speculates that some of Jobs' personality is related to his feelings about being adopted. The bold sections are from the "60 Minutes" voiceover from reporter Steve Kroft.

WHEN WALTER ISAACSON FIRST BEGAN WORKING ON THE BOOK, WHICH IS PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER, A DIVISION OF CBS, STEVE JOBS’ WIFE, LAURENE POWELL, TOLD HIM, “BE HONEST WITH HIS FAILINGS AND WELL AS HIS STRENGTHS. THERE ARE PARTS OF HIS LIFE AND HIS PERSONALITY THAT ARE EXTREMELY MESSY. YOU SHOULDN’T WHITE WASH IT. I’D LIKE TO SEE THAT IT’S ALL TOLD TRUTHFULLY.”

WALTER ISAACSON WALKING: He’s not warm and fuzzy.

AND TO DO IT, ISAACSON INTERVIEWED MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE—JOBS’ FRIENDS, FAMILY, CO-WORKERS AND COMPETITORS.

KROFT WALKING: I think it’s a tough book.

ISAACSON WALKING: It’s a book that’s fair.  I mean, this is a real human being. 

STEVE KROFT: He had lots of flaws.

WALTER ISAACSON: He was very petulant. He was very brittle. He could be very, very mean to people at times. Whether it was to a waitress in a restaurant, or to a guy who had stayed up all night coding, he could just really just go at them and say, "You're doin' this all wrong. It's horrible." And you'd say, "Why did you do that? Why weren't you nicer?" And he'd say I really want to be with people who demand perfection. And this is who I am."

ISAACSON BELIEVES THAT MUCH OF IT CAN BE TRACED TO THE EARLIEST YEARS OF HIS LIFE, AND TO THE TO THE FACT THAT JOBS BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK, GIVEN UP BY HIS BIRTH PARENTS, AND ADOPTED BY A WORKING CLASS COUPLE FROM MOUNTAIN VIEW, FROM MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA. 

WALTER ISAACSON: Paul Jobs was a salt-of-the-earth guy who was a great mechanic. And he taught his son Steve how to make great things  And he--once they were building a fence. And he said, "You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence." Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you're dedicated to making something perfect." 

JOBS ALWAYS KNEW HE WAS ADOPTED, BUT IT STILL HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON HIM. HE TOLD ISAACSON THIS STORY FROM HIS EARLY CHILDHOOD DURING ONE OF THEIR MANY TAPED INTERVIEWS:

STEVE JOBS TAPES: I was, I remember right here on my lawn, telling Lisa McMoylar from across the street that I was adopted. And she said, “So does that mean your real parents didn't want you?” Ooooh, lightning bolts went off in my head. I remember running into the house, I think I was like crying, asking my parents. And they sat me down and they said, “No, you don't understand. We specifically picked you out.”

WALTER ISAACSON: He said, "From then on, I realized that I was not — just abandoned. I was chosen. I was special." And I think that's the key to understanding Steve Jobs.

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Photo: The cover of "Steve Jobs." Credit: Simon & Schuster

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