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The Zen of Steve Jobs

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


An illustrated depiction of Steve Jobs' friendship with Zen Buddhist Kobun Chino Otogawa and the impact it had on Jobs' career
Apple cofounder Steve Jobs (1955-2011) had such an enormous impact on so many people that his life often took on aspects of myth. But much of his success was due to collaboration with designers, engineers and thinkers. The Zen of Steve Jobs tells the story of Jobs' relationship with one such person: Kobun Chino Otogawa.

Kobun was a Zen Buddhist priest who emigrated to the U.S. from Japan in the early 1970s. He was an innovator, lacked appreciation for rules and was passionate about art and design. Kobun was to Buddhism as Jobs was to the computer business: a renegade and maverick. It wasn't long before the two became friends--a relationship that was not built to last.

This graphic book is a reimagining of that friendship. The story moves back and forward in time, from the 1970s to 2011, but centers on the period after Jobs' exile from Apple in 1985 when he took up intensive study with Kobun. Their time together was integral to the big leaps that Apple took later on with its product design and business strategy.

Told using stripped down dialogue and bold calligraphic panels, The Zen of Steve Jobs explores how Jobs might have honed his design aesthetic via Eastern religion before choosing to identify only what he needs and leave the rest behind.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 13, 2012 – At one point in this graphic novel biography, the titular icon states his design philosophy in a succinct phrase: “What you leave out will shape the whole.” This also describes the philosophy driving this book. While not a conventional biography, this book uses a nonlinear mosaic structure to give the reader glimpses into Jobs’s relationship with Zen roshi Kobun Chino Otogawa, whom he met following his ouster from Apple. Melby starts with the near collapse of Apple Computers in 1985 and then jumps around a time line that covers decades. Each scene connects loosely to the next, sometimes showing the origins of ideas Jobs would later employ in redesigning Mac, sometimes connecting only through the relationship between the priest and his student. Melby portrays Jobs as an aggressive egotist as much as an innovator, and particularly later in the book, he is shown to be careless with his friends. The artwork uses shadow and color to indicate form in a way that is deliberately reminiscent of early iPod commercials. A fascinating section in the back matter details the artists’ process in finding that aesthetic. Overall, the drawings and the sparseness of the narrative work together to shape a fine story, one perhaps too large to be told in one volume.

Customer Reviews

Beautifully done, but a little sparse

I enjoyed the ideas and design of this book immensely. It is beautifully done and I learned both about Steve and Buddhism. It was, however, fairly short and was read in about half an hour. I don't want to sound selfish or ungrateful, but it almost felt like an extended preview of a larger book... Still, a worthwhile read.

Not an historical account

The first few panels get some important details dead wrong: Soto Zen practitioners sit facing the wall, not the center of the room, dokusan is a face to face meeting, conversation in the Zendo is very rare, etc. This really hurts the credibility of the account in my eyes.

In particular, the meeting between Steve and Suzuki Roshi seems unlikely, since Suzuki Roshi died in 1971 and Les Kaye who is now Abbot of the successor to Haiku Zendo, Kannon Do, doesn't remember Steve coming to the sitting group until 1974. Steve was also a big fan of Suzuki Roshi's first book: Zen Mind, Beginners Mind.

Nit-picking aside it was an enjoyable read and there are some interesting parts, just don't confuse it with history.

Original as Steve

There's a lot of books about him. But there's no one like this. An original idea, concept and history. Great work! I bought this ebook and now I want the paper version too.

The Zen of Steve Jobs
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Finance
  • Published: Dec 05, 2011
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Seller: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Print Length: 1 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

More by Caleb Melby, JESS3 & Forbes, LLC