By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 13, 2011

Much ado about an entry in Simon & Schuster’s fall catalog

A lot of nonsense has been written about the discrepancy — first spotted Monday by‘s Fabio M. Zambelli — between the page count listed on for Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs (448 pages) and the one on Simon & Schuster’s website (656 pages).

But the item John Hudson posted on The Atlantic Wire struck me as particularly dumb. Under the bizarre headline “Steve Jobs Has Recently Lived 200 More Pages of His Biography” he writes:

“Good news for Steve Jobs worshipers: Simon & Schuster is releasing an enhanced e-book version of the former Apple CEO’s forthcoming biography that’s 656 pages long. That’s over 200 pages longer than the previously reported size, leaving many to wonder what details of the tech icons life will be added by author Walter Isaacson.”

The assumption that the e-book is longer than the printed one, or that the page count ballooned to make room for the news of Jobs’ resignation as CEO of Apple (AAPL), is wrong says Isaacson. “I was always aiming at this length. The original pubdate and page number info entered in the databases were just there as a placeholder.”

There’s no reason, he adds, that Steve Jobs should get fewer pages than Ben Franklin or Albert Einstein, the subjects of two previous Isaacson biographies.

Knowing Walter, I suspect there’s a bit more to it than that. To paraphrase Mark Twain (who borrowed the line from Blaise Pascal), Isaacson probably wrote a long Steve Jobs biography — the first to be done with Jobs’ cooperation — because he didn’t have time to write a short one.

See also: The man who won Steve Jobs’ trust.

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