There are so many reasons to get excited about the forthcoming Steve Jobs biography. For one, it'll be the first of its kind to feature exclusive interviews with the Apple founder himself. Secondly, the man chosen to write the book is none other than Walter Isaacson, acclaimed biographer of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Henry Kissinger and former managing editor of Time. The only problem has been the wildly corny name Simon & Schuster's publicity department chose for the book: iSteve: The Book of Jobs. But according to Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt, the problem's been solved: the publisher has ditched the name at the behest of Isaacson, whose wife and daughter convinced him the name "was too cutesy."
"Now Isaacson has persuaded his publisher to go with something simpler and more elegant," writes Elmer-DeWitt, "Steve Jobs By Walter Isaacson."
Exhaling a sigh of relief, the Apple fanboys are thrilled. "The universe has been set right again," writes Ken Segall at the Observatory. "The legacy of Steve Jobs--master of simplicity and champion of good taste--will no longer be tarnished by a badly named biography... In just five words, that original title managed to be cutesy, gimmicky and arrogant, all at once. It was hardly a fitting choice for a book of importance." Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at Business Insider ran with the headline "PHEW: Steve Jobs' Official Bio Gets a Non-Awful Title," noting that the new title "isn't insanely great, but it's not bad either, and it's certainly in keeping with Steve Jobs' minimalist ethos." Over at TUAW, Mike Schramm voiced approval with the name swap but wasn't ultimately satisfied with the new title. "Makes sense, but where's the verve and vim? It could be the publisher wanted something a little more official-sounding, especially since there's another popular biography that already uses the 'i-' prefix in a witty way," writes Schramm. "Plus, they may have wanted a title that really plays on the 'authorized' part; since this is the first book to cover Jobs with his approval, putting his name front and center will help do just that." Taking it one step further, Segall wants answers for this unforgivable book titling mistake!
The only mystery to me is: how did iSteve ever become official in the first place? Not only was it gimmicky, it came years after Wozniak had already published his iWoz book.
Fortune reports that the original title can be blamed on Simon & Schuster’s publicity department. However, a world-renowned author like William Isaacson normally gets the final say in such matters...
Absent in this scenario is any suggestion that Steve Jobs had an opinion — and you know how likely that is. Even if Isaacson had been granted autonomy in this project, surely he would at least sought out Steve’s counsel.
So I suspect the real story is a bit more convoluted than the one told by Fortune. Unfortunately, we’re not likely to discover the truth until some guy in Simon & Schuster’s publicity department publishes his own life story.
For the record, all this anxiety is over a book that isn't slated for release until March of next year. Now that's what you call pre-release buzz.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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