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David Pogue Talks About Publishing, Steve Jobs, and Mac OS X

by Derrick Story

When David Pogue stopped by the O'Reilly booth for his 4:30 talk on publishing the Missing Manual series, he was recognized by kids and seniors alike. Proof that his writing appeals to just about everyone in the Mac audience.

O'Reilly and the Missing Manuals

Once his presentation began, he told the story of how he had hooked up with O'Reilly in the first place because his previous publisher wasn't that interested in his idea for a comprehensive Palm Pilot book. That difference of views led to his striking a deal with O'Reilly because they thought he had a good idea. The Palm book went on to be a huge success.

He then described how he and O'Reilly produced the Missing Manuals and the process of designing the text and covers. At one point he referred to the dog illustration on the Mac OS 9 book.

After it was published, a reader sent David an e-mail stating that he thought it was cool that the animal on the cover was the famous Apple Dog-Cow. Much to Pogue's chagrin, he hadn't even noticed that illustration was Dog-Cow. It was one of those small pieces of good fortune that often contribute to prosperity.

David Pogue checking appointments in his Palm before speaking at the O'Reilly booth.

David Pogue checking appointments in his Palm before speaking at the O'Reilly booth. (Photo by Derrick Story)

Steve Jobs interview

After his presentation, I sat down with David for a few minutes and asked him about his interview with Steve Jobs the day before, and about Mac OS X.

David said that when he met with Steve for the interview, he wasn't sure how the meeting would go. As it worked out, Steve Jobs was very gracious and the conversation flowed smoothly.

At the end of the meeting, David Pogue turned to Steve and said,

"I just want you to know that I've never had another job other than writing about the Mac -- except for the New York Times thing that I'm currently doing -- and I just want to thank you for 15 years of my career."

Jobs acknowledged the remark and quickly replied, "Well, we're ready to provide you with 15 more years of writing."

Pogue on Mac OS X

I then asked about Mac OS X and if David felt that if would help elevate Apple to the next level. He responded, that as of yesterday, the answer was yes.

Why yesterday?

Because two things happened. First, during the keynote, Steve Jobs clearly showed that Apple was paying attention to user feedback, and that they had made a number of changes to the OS based on that information.

Second, Microsoft stepped up to the plate and announced that they will support Mac OS X with their Office suite of applications. Most people agree that without MS Office, the Apple OS is in deep trouble.

With that, I told David that I didn't want to take up any more of his time, and I left to retrieve my jacket from "coat check."

During his talk, David Pogue shared many anecdotes from his publishing experiences with the

During his talk, David Pogue shared many anecdotes from his publishing experiences with the "Missing Manual" series. (Photo by Derrick Story).

At Day's End

The Missing Manuals

The Missing Manual
The book that should have been in the box

When I returned, the trade floor had closed for the day, and the deafening roar of vendor presentations were replaced by the hum of vacuum cleaners. I saw David Pogue sitting quietly in one of audience chairs with a PowerBook on his lap. After he finished reading his downloaded e-mail, he came over to where I was packing up my equipment. He looked around at the now empty Moscone Center and said,

"It's kinda weird in here after everyone leaves, isn't it?"

"Well, now that you mentioned it," I replied.

He then headed off to work on an article that was due that night ... and I did the same.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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