In the past months, I've read a lot of books about Apple, and in particular about Steve Jobs. Bartending by Stephen Hackett, however, is the only one that struck me as being completely honest and real in the subject it covers: Apple's retail stores as a genuine, living collection of stories and people. Not just a business.
Bartending: Memoirs of an Apple Genius, is short, direct, and entertaining. You can probably finish it in 40 minutes if you're in the mood of reading about Apple's retail employees and the stories of customers who happen to swing by the Genius Bar every day. And if you like a style that's fun, cuts to the point, and isn't ashamed of recollecting the real thoughts of an Apple Genius who sees all kinds of customers on a daily basis, I bet you will devour Bartending from cover to cover in less than an hour. It is a pleasure to read Stephen narrate how he helped a woman recover the precious photos of her children after her hard drive failed, or how the iPhone represented a major shift both in terms of audience, and at the Bar.
I like to think of Bartending as more than "a book about the Genius Bar". Whether or not you are aware of how Apple's retail behemoth works behind the scenes, Bartending provides a fun and enlightening look at the interactions that occur every day on both sides of the business. In front of and behind the Genius Bar. I think Stephen's greatest accomplishment with this book is that he explains with a human, friendly tone that, in spite of the gadgets and dollars involved with the business, the people ultimately define the stories we remember. And if the rules can be bent a little for the good of the customer -- to "surprise and delight" -- even better. That's what makes this book a story of its own that fits in the Apple Community so well.