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Download The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness Audiobook, by Steven Levy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (234 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steven Levy Narrator: Anthony Rapp Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2006 ISBN: 9780743561259
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On October 23, 2001, Apple Computer, a company known for its chic, cutting-edge technology -- if not necessarily for its dominant market share -- launched a product with an enticing promise: You can carry an entire music collection in your pocket. It was called the iPod. What happened next exceeded the company's wildest dreams. Over 50 million people have inserted the device's distinctive white buds into their ears, and the iPod has become a global obsession. The Perfect Thing is the definitive account, from design and marketing to startling impact, of Apple's iPod, the signature device of our young century.

   

Besides being one of the most successful consumer products in decades, the iPod has changed our behavior and even our society. It has transformed Apple from a computer company into a consumer electronics giant. It has remolded the music business, altering not only the means of distribution but even the ways in which people enjoy and think about music. Its ubiquity and its universally acknowledged coolness have made it a symbol for the digital age itself, with commentators remarking on "the iPod generation." Now the iPod is beginning to transform the broadcast industry, too, as podcasting becomes a way to access radio and television programming. Meanwhile millions of Podheads obsess about their gizmo, reveling in the personal soundtrack it offers them, basking in the social cachet it lends them, even wondering whether the device itself has its own musical preferences.

Steven Levy, the chief technology correspondent for Newsweek magazine and a longtime Apple watcher, is the ideal writer to tell the iPod's tale. He has had access to all the key players in the iPod story, including Steve Jobs, Apple's charismatic cofounder and CEO, whom Levy has known for over twenty years. Detailing for the first time the complete story of the creation of the iPod, Levy explains why Apple succeeded brilliantly with its version of the MP3 player when other companies didn't get it right, and how Jobs was able to convince the bosses at the big record labels to license their music for Apple's groundbreaking iTunes Store. (We even learn why the iPod is white.) Besides his inside view of Apple, Levy draws on his experiences covering Napster and attending Supreme Court arguments on copyright (as well as his own travels on the iPod's click wheel) to address all of the fascinating issues -- technical, legal, social, and musical -- that the iPod raises.

Borrowing one of the definitive qualities of the iPod itself, The Perfect Thing shuffles the book format. Each chapter of this book was written to stand on its own, a deeply researched, wittily observed take on a different aspect of the iPod. The sequence of the chapters in the book has been shuffled in different copies, with only the opening and concluding sections excepted. "Shuffle" is a hallmark of the digital age -- and The Perfect Thing, via sharp, insightful reporting, is the perfect guide to the deceptively diminutive gadget embodying our era.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Entertaining....[The Perfect Thing] does a handy job of crystallizing and commemorating the dawn of the iPod age.” 

    New York Times

  • “More than a tale about the birth of the iPod, this entertaining book is a twelve-horn hallelujah chorus celebrating how this 'perfect thing' is propelling music from the past into this century and beyond. Add it to your Readlist.” 

    Wired

  • “Loads of fun, jammed with entertaining connections, unexpected riffs, and endless stuff you've never heard of before.” 

    Washington Monthly

  • Wonderful…The Perfect Thing is a thoroughgoing treatment of the iPod from many different perspectives—social, economic, technical, psychological—packed with insights from one of the tech world’s most astute observers.” 

    Boing Boing

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nathan | 11/5/2013

    " Despite the subtitle, this book doesn't so much study "how the iPod shuffles commerce, et al", but rather reiterate the claim over and over...and over. Pure Macfan brain candy that won't really convince the unconverted or tell adherents anything they don't already believe, a few interesting glimpses into the iPod's design notwithstanding. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 10/24/2013

    " audiobook. Excellent prose on the iPod "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dittrich | 10/3/2013

    " An interesting read about the origins of the iPod. There are several different versions of this book with the chapters in different orders, an homage to the shuffle feature of the iPod. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Iben | 8/1/2013

    " Enjoyable but lacks criticality. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lisa | 7/25/2013

    " interesting glimpse into the inner workings of apple, with lots of fascinating insights into the design process... but primarily an extended fellation of steve jobs. steven levy has written better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Warren | 6/29/2013

    " Incredibly fascinating history of the genesis, development, and marketing of the iPod. You might not agree with all of Levy's assertions about the importance of the ubiquitous MP3 player, but you have to give him credit to making its story cool. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Greg | 2/23/2013

    " Recently I got really curious about the business decisions behind the creation of the iPod, so I picked up "The Perfect Thing." Only about a chapter or two discussed the decisions that went into making the iPod the rest is really an analysis and description of the cultural impact of the iPod. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lori Grant | 1/15/2013

    " A must-read company profile for knowledge workers, managers, directors, C-levels, and entrepreneurs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alicia | 10/23/2012

    " I originally read this book for an essay, but it sucked me in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 George Coghill | 10/22/2012

    " From what I recall, this was a pretty detailed and informative/entertaining history of the development of the iPod. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicola D'agostino | 8/11/2012

    " Recensito su Storie di Apple in "The Perfect Thing". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kyle | 5/10/2012

    " Book offered good background on the iPod and Apple's turn-around. Good cultural context. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sylvia | 4/8/2012

    " This book reveals all the mystery behind the phenomenal iPod. Quite an eye opener. However, the fun of reading this book is spoilt by the all too obvious Steven Levy's admiration to the Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs. Not smooth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Neven | 3/11/2012

    " Very informative and engaging history of the iPod. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 7/16/2011

    " "Steven brings his skills to the story and impact of the iPod. He gives credit to Jeff Robins, Tony Fadell, Paul Mercer and others who deserve it, so I especially like it. But his observations on coolness, design and usage are equally insightful." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gavin | 5/5/2011

    " Interesting cultural commentary on the birth of the iPod. Easy to forget that the iPhone started with a little white box with a turn wheel! Not too heavy on the technical mumbo jumbo, it is a cultural snapshot from 2006. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Serge Boucher | 4/13/2011

    " Somewhat dated but may still be worth reading if you care about the design process behind the iPod. Interesting discussion about the randomness of "shuffle". "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy | 2/22/2011

    " Cool title, interesting concept but the book didn't quite deliver any truly startling insight. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alicia | 2/12/2011

    " I originally read this book for an essay, but it sucked me in. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 3/5/2010

    " audiobook. Excellent prose on the iPod "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Arden | 4/5/2009

    " I don't even own an iPod, but I loved reading this book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gavin | 1/27/2009

    " Interesting cultural commentary on the birth of the iPod. Easy to forget that the iPhone started with a little white box with a turn wheel! Not too heavy on the technical mumbo jumbo, it is a cultural snapshot from 2006. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lisa | 11/4/2008

    " interesting glimpse into the inner workings of apple, with lots of fascinating insights into the design process... but primarily an extended fellation of steve jobs. steven levy has written better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Neven | 7/7/2008

    " Very informative and engaging history of the iPod. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Davehk | 5/24/2008

    " anybody who builds something for a living should read this. It's a must-read for my team.

    No-one seems to say that Steve Jobs is easy to work for, but if you measure the man by the caliber of his products then he's not at the bottom of the list (this, from my exalted position!) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy | 4/15/2008

    " Cool title, interesting concept but the book didn't quite deliver any truly startling insight. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 2/19/2008

    " "Steven brings his skills to the story and impact of the iPod. He gives credit to Jeff Robins, Tony Fadell, Paul Mercer and others who deserve it, so I especially like it. But his observations on coolness, design and usage are equally insightful." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric | 1/13/2008

    " Fantastic story, brilliantly told! Steven's the tech industry's quintessential storyteller. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Raja99 | 9/8/2007

    " I'd rate this 9/10.

    One interesting thing: At least in theory, different copies (printings?) have the chapters in different orders.... "

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About the Author

Steven Levy is a senior writer at Wired and was formerly senior editor and chief technology correspondent for Newsweek. He is the author of several books, including Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, which was voted the best science-tech nonfiction book of the last twenty years by readers of PC magazine, and Insanely Great, the definitive account of the Macintosh computer. A native of Philadelphia, Levy lives in New York City with his wife and son.

About the Narrator

Anthony Rapp has been acting professionally since he was nine years old. He is best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in the Pulitzer Prize-winning rock opera Rent. He lives in New York City.