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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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The Zen of Steve Jobs Paperback – January 3, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review




Q&A with Author Caleb Melby
Author Caleb Melby
Why did you choose to focus on this one period in Steve's life and his relationship with Kobun Chino Otogawa?
All considered, a full-length biography was out of the question. Jesse Thomas of Jess3 had talked with Forbes managing editor Bruce Upbin back in the spring of 2011 shortly before I arrived in New York City, wanting to do a collaborative story that looked at the development of Steve's design aesthetic. That focus really got at the heart of both Steve and Apple, without requiring a more comprehensive longitudinal narrative.

Steve, throughout his life, dabbled in numerous modes of self-improvement and self-actualization. He experimented with drugs and, for a time, he only ate fruit, believing that doing so would keep him from sweating (talk about devotion to perfection). Zen Buddhism stuck with Steve the longest, and Kobun was Steve's mentor, in both Buddhism and design. The Buddhist priest was so influential in Steve's life during the mid-80s that Steve named him NeXT's spiritual guru. But what really got me was the strong parallels in their worldviews - they are both rule-breakers and innovators. The idea of telling those stories in tandem really excited me.

What's the most interesting piece of information you found out during the research for this story?
The overarching narrative about perfection was, and still is, the most perplexing theme I encountered while researching this. I wanted to know what the "Buddhist" perspective on perfection was. Now, to talk about "Buddhism" is kind of like talking about "Christianity." There are numerous sects with their own schools of thought and particular traditions. I'd ask my sources: "What does Buddhism say about perfection?" They all laughed at me. I guess I'm kind of revealing my doctrinal Catholic roots, but I expected a clear-cut answer. There wasn't one.

Steve believed in perfection. Kobun didn't. He believed in self-betterment, sure, but he also believed in achieving peace within oneself and with one's surroundings. Perfectionists are never at peace. In popular culture, we like to think of Buddhist priests as being these absolutely serene and wise individuals. But Kobun's life was filled with tumult. In the end, that's what drives these two men apart. One of them wants to be the perfect innovator making perfect products on a massive scale. The other is working to achieve peace with himself, his family and his surroundings. When Steve starts having tremendous success again in the 90s, he and Kobun no longer see eye-to-eye. Perfection is the nail that drives that splinter.

What didn't make the cut that you really wish you could have found room for?
I've mentioned before that I drew inspiration from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson when writing this. I wanted to focus on the relationship between Steve and Kobun, like Watterson did with Calvin and Hobbes, which meant actively excluding scenes that would introduce characters that would bog down the development of that relationship. So a lot of scenes didn't fit. Laurene Powell was incredibly important to Steve, and Kobun officiated the couple's marriage. But I couldn't introduce Laurene only to make her disappear. Their marriage is one of the best-documented public interactions between Steve and Kobun, but I had to let it go.

Why tell this story through a graphic depiction rather than in words?
The written style of the book is kind of epigrammatic. It mirrors the style of the koan, a storytelling and learning device used largely by Rinzai Zen Buddhists (Kobun was a Soto Zen Buddhist himself). It's pithy. This style fits better with Steve's actual mode of conversation than it does Kobun's. Steve is a dramatic, direct speaker. Kobun was wise beyond measure, but he was also something of a rambling lecturer. Had I not edited down those talks, they would have crowded the beautiful illustrations that Jess3 created. But there were wonderful kernels at the center of Kobun's lectures. So that was the point, to get to the essence of Steve and Kobun in such a way that the story could largely be told through images. In the end, this is an inherently visual story. The meditating, the calligraphy, the aging are all innately visual. It's also a book about design. You can write about design, or you can illustrate design. This is a story that was meant to be told graphically.


Review

The book is a pleasant read and a clever way to present one aspect of Jobs complex personality and beliefs. (Animation Magazine, March 2012)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1st edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118295269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118295267
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I picked up the paperback of this book curious about the interaction of Steve Jobs with the world of Buddhism. I also thought since it was a re-imagining, the story would be a nice typical flow of ups and downs, apex, then an ending. It's a lot more than that, and none of that.

The story calmly flows independent of any formula. The illustrations and dialogue are minimalistic - the creators are clearly influenced by, and appreciate the subject at hand. I admit, the first time I read through it, I wasn't as pleased as I am now. It wasn't until I read through the background and intent of the book that I realized my appreciation. This isn't as much about story telling as it is about conveying a feeling... and imagining how it must have been to be a part of the private interaction that occurred between Kobun and Steve Jobs.
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Format: Paperback
This short comic book focuses on Steve Jobs' relationship with Zen Buddhism and Kobun Chino Otogawa, a Buddhist Priest. It jumps around in time from a young Steve Jobs to Steve Jobs in 2011 and shows that he was interested in the religion for a time but that after that interest faded, he still kept in touch with Kobun.

There isn't much else to say about the book. Jobs, like many Americans, dipped into Buddhism because he liked some aspects of it but never fully committed and eventually left it altogether. One of Jobs' tasks when learning about Zen Buddhism was to learn to walk and meditate at the same time in a circle. The author then makes it seem that this exercise led to Apple's famous circle on the iPod and then later Apple's circular HQ (never mind that Jobs employed teams of talented designers who actually came up with these ideas).

Kobun is a fairly ordinary character though he's portrayed as an "outsider" to Zen Buddhism because he doesn't beat his students with a stick and eats hot fudge sundaes at Denny's. Anyone looking for a book on Jobs' life won't find it here as the book is centrally about Jobs' dabbling with Buddhism. Jobs fanatics might enjoy this book, for anyone else, I wouldn't bother.
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Format: Paperback
with everything else that's been said and written about Jobs, this one comes out as something different. Jobs relationship with zen buddhism is not that well known but this book is brave enough to imagine what it might have been like. the dialogue is clipped, the framing is simple. it's all very zen. I read it a few times right away (since it is only 60 pages of story) and came away finding something new and different each time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting, fresh and innovative approach, yet very short booklet -- rather than reading it, you'll browse through it - and finish it within 10 minutes or so -- still remembering initial price.

Content is OK, but definitely not enough for 10 bucks. If it wouldn't be so nicely done, I'd call it a rip-off.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that follows Steve Jobs mantra to "Think Different." And how that was instilled in Jobs over time with mentor - Kobun. The inspiration comes not from the words, but the thoughts it will instill in you - if you give it a chance.

A book with few words, big ideas, and thoughts that will change how you think - if you give it the time and a chance.
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Format: Paperback
Forbes writer Caleb Melby and artist Jess3 began working on this semi-biographical book before Steve Jobs' unfortunate and untimely death in 2011. Since then, Walter Isaacson's prose book Steve Jobs has become an international bestseller. This comic doesn't concentrate on the larger scope of Jobs' life and its huge impact on people around the globe. Instead, it focuses on a friendship between Jobs and a Zen Buddhist priest named Kobun.

The art is pretty incredible. I loved its stripped-down, bare-bones approach coupled with soft, muted dual tones. The art is simple and approachable in the way Apple products are, and the simplicity fits well with the arc of the narrative.

The story is an imagining of what occurred between Jobs and Kobun, who were friends on and off for two decades. As such, it feels somewhat "off" to pretend we can truly know what their conversations were like through the years. Yet Melby spent a lot of time interviewing former students of Kobun and others to build a reliable framework. Moreover, he keeps his text simple and straightforward. What results is an interesting, intriguing look into the spiritual life of a remarkable creative genius.

Reviewed by John Hogan
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Format: Paperback
A great way to enter and understand the mind of a genius. I would've never know this side of the story of his life if it wasn't for this book.
How his mind changed during the course of the time. I also learned about the way he and therefore Apple thinks, so I can apply that way of thinking to my own business.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Steve was a tyrant but a genius and had he not been so motivated to accomplish as he was, he would never have created what we all take for granted; our mobility! He taught a lot of newbies how to do business and I'm sure those who worked with and for him, looking back on the experience, will agree that it was the hardest time of their lives but the best because they are where they are due to his skills!
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