Newsweek technology writer Steven Levy's The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness not only looks at how the notion of downloading and compiling a personal song library has affected the music industry, but how the demand for this technology helped rescue a company (Apple) reeling from setbacks in the personal computer field. Levy shows that while Apple didn't invent the technology, the company recognized long before its competitors that MP3 players represented the next wave in consumer preferences.
As Levy shows, the iPod's popularity has forced music labels and publishers to scramble, seeking ways to legally allow downloading yet also ensure fair artist royalties. But, with the Podcast, the iPod has also created a way for everyone from performers to radio hosts to newspapers to present themselves to the public without the support of a big radio or television studio. Though Levy is careful to couch most of his presentation in generally understandable language, there are still some sections of The Perfect Thing where appreciation may be directly related to whether you know the difference between an iPod and a transistor radio. Meanwhile, in a nod to the iPod's shuffle feature, the book comes in four different mixes, or arrangements of the chapters.