Last Wednesday, On Point had Amazon founder & CEO Jeff Bezos on to talk about his behemoth Internet retailer. Bezos talked to Tom Ashbrook about the looong list of products Amazon offers (chainsaws? really?) and the various services—online storage, for one—that they’ve gotten into.
But what the two returned to over and over again, and what callers seemed most interested in talking about, was the Kindle, Amazon’s portable piece of hardware designed exclusively for book reading.
These aren’t “books” like, say, a battered Louis L’Amour novel whose pages get creased by greasy breakfast fingers, and whose cover loosens with each successive stuffing into a jeans pocket. But it’s similar: you download the text of the book (or newspaper, magazine, etc.) to the Kindle, then chip away at it when you’ve got a moment to burn.
Is it the “Death of the Book”? Is Jeff Bezos the next Gutenburg? I suggest you give the episode a listen for yourself. Or, if you’re really feeling this Kindle thing, go ahead and plunk down the robust $360 and give it a shot. It’s a pretty fun machine.
I think this digital ramp-up will take some time. On the bus this morning there were at least ten people reading newspapers, novels, and magazines, with nary a Kindle in sight. At my neighborhood library the patrons are zipping through books with a lust and intensity that makes me steer far clear of the leather chairs, which are circled up like wagons for protection.
Bezos can enthuse to his heart’s content about the future of reading, but at my library he’d get the brush-off by the serious book devotees, hunched over, feverishly dog-earing pages and nodding to the rhythm of the words. There is trouble brewing.