Bob Stein = The Man

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Having never been exposed to his name or discoveries prior to this reading, I must say that Bob Stein may in fact be "The Man". Appreciation may come from a book worm but his legitimate progress and influence within the world of publishing has done more than just create the ebook. What I enjoy most about his triumphs?... there accidental occurrence. Every once in a while its nice to know that brinks of brilliance can come out of the woodwork; when trying to achieve another goal, a more solitary idea can surface. Believing that one of the more important aspects of this article regards Stein's opinion on "what a book is", I appreciate the director's acknowledgment that a book had to be thought of not in terms of its physical properties but instead the way it was used. Thus, when he claims that the book is a medium where the user has access to the material and may choose the pace and process that they go about gaining said knowledge, I am reminded that the process in which we produce these books has just as much importance as the content a reader is accessing. Stein realizes, and has realized, this way before many others. Such a thought is how he overcame the issue of the reader simply sitting there allowing the media to just happen in front of you.

Stein's last tidbit during this interview confirmed what I have continuously feared since the serious take off of media processors: how these tools will continue to be used and what they may lead to. When someone as credible as Stein mentions that "fundamental change involves upheaval", you listen. As obvious as it is, I somehow become more fearful of the idea knowing it comes from a man who was conquering the CD-Rom during the VHS phenomenon. Like Stein explained, "we are not going gently into some utopian future". My question is this: what can we do (or is there anything we may even do) to disregard upheaval or are we incapable of doing so and must welcome violent change with open arms?



Will's picture

Violent Upheaval

I also considered what it means to become involved with violent upheaval. I can see the violence dealing with the decline of VHS for DVD (and now with the decline of disks for digital formats). VHS is almost completely dead, even though it ruled the land at one time. With books though, there may be two divergent paths. One path follows the traditional, linear print book and its transition to digital formats; the other path follows new kinds of interactive and networked books. The new kinds of books add to the form, rather than replace traditional books. DVD's and digital formats are meant to replace, but I'm not so sure about the new kinds of books.

Meagan757's picture

"The Man"

While I was reading his interview I was also amazed at all that he's done for the eBook and technology in general... I feel like his name is not as recognizable as it should be. His "ah hah" moment that the book is 'user driven media' has completely revolutionized the book and stigmas that surround the printed work! I love that you call him "the man"- I definitely agree!

cmmayberry's picture

Networking Books, Bring it On

He is, most definitely, a boss! I'm just not moving past the fact that many of our pupils are only just now hearing his name. Thank goodness for the ah-ha moment. I have a confession: until this past week and Dr. Blakesley's instruction in class, I have been anti-kindle, nook, ipad, anything that isn't tangible book. For me there has always been a consistent disconnect between screen reading and text on paper. I feel like a lone ranger when it comes to ebooks but I'm warming up to the idea and thankful to have read Stein's interview!

RIP VHS- that's what sup.
Will, I agree with you when saying that these new types of networking books will not replace those linear print books now in digital format. As much as the idea of networking with characters, exploring a replicative map, or writing other storyline opportunities for said book may be, I think enough consumers will appreciate those digital books as a way of "escaping" the modern world of social networking (or networking in general) but I do believe that the interactive books will create a new realm of learning; another way to possess as well as progress reading. I think I'm more pumped about the possibility of Alice than Sammy Watkins coming back into the game... and that's saying something!


I agree with Bob Stein's definition of a book as a medium that provides material and allows the reader to move at his or her own pace. This really sets up the book to be transformed into multiple new formats--the e-book being just the first of many, I'm sure. As to your question, I think that people will always fight upheaval, but in the end it will come no matter who opposes it. The best thing to do is probably just accept it and move on, even though that may be difficult. After all, computers, internet, and even simply recording ideas on paper were all radical new ideas, and yet today we think of them as fundamental to our lives. What will those lives look like in fifty years, I wonder?