Bezos on Books

Jeff Bezos

Here is an excerpt from an article (“Why Bezos Was Surprised by Kindle’s Success”) written by Daniel Lyons that was featured by on December 21, 2009. In it, Jeff Bezos shares his thoughts about printed and digital books following the launch of Amazon’s electronic reader, the Kindle.

“The book really has had a 500-year run. It’s probably the most successful technology ever. If Gutenberg were alive today, he would recognize the physical book and know how to operate it immediately. Given how much change there has been everywhere else, what’s remarkable is how stable the book has been for so long. But no technology, not even one as elegant as the book, lasts forever.”

My Take

1. There will always be printed books but fewer of them printed on presses and in active use.

2. There will also be fewer book stores.  Those that remain will be learning centers that resemble supermarkets, offering a wide range of products (both print and electronic) as well as services.

3. Off-site access to a wealth of resources will be available.

4. Instructional programs will be interactive for individuals and groups, on-site and electronically. I hope there will be strategic alliances between and among the learning centers, schools, colleges, universities, and public libraries.

5. Eventually, few printed books will be produced in substantial numbers; most will be printed per specification on request. For example, anthologies of favorite poems, short stories, excerpts from novels, chapters from textbooks, scenes from plays, etc.

The wine press that inspired Gutenberg to devise the printing press has since given way to various technologies but wine presses remain. The same will be true of printed books.

My greater concern, frankly, is the number of adults in the U.S. who cannot read and, especially, the percentage of high school graduates who are functional illiterates. Last I heard, it is estimated to be about 35%. Too many college athletes can autograph a football or basketball…but can’t read it.

One man’s opinion.

To read the complete article, please click here.


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