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Papyrus … Guttenberg … Bezos. Introducing Amazon’s Kindle

Jeff Bezos has unveiled the new literary killer app (or rather, device) the Amazon Kindle. The rentaquote on Amazon reads thus:
“This is the future of book reading. It will be everywhere.” – Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and Liar’s Poker.

Kindle

The Kindle is being heralded as the “iPod for books” (not the iPhone I note!). Business Week has given five reasons why the Kindle is the next must-have gadget.

1. Solves real “problems” for consumers and readers
Kindle is the first ebook reader with its own cellular wireless connection to let you get new books anytime, almost anywhere when the mood strikes. It’s not wifi, you don’t need to find hot spots — it’s like a cell phone. What about periodicals? I want to get my newspapers and magazines quick. Wake up in the morning, grab some coffee and the paper. Kindle’s wireless connection puts them there before I wake up.

2. Moves the value equation in favor of consumers
Want to buy a digital book from Sony? It’s about the same price as in the book store — or MORE. Want to read Clive Cussler’s new thriller “The Chase” in hardcover? It costs $16.17 at Amazon.com or $21.56 at Sony’s ebook store. Ouch. What the heck? No paper or printing or shipping costs and it’s still more? Kindle books top out at $9.99 and many are less.

3. Smart design changes the existing product landscape
Kindle is filled with a bunch of smart design features, like a real keyboard to let you search in a book or document or page turning buttons on both sides of the screen. Another major decision will also help Kindle take off. It’s not hanging off your computer. You don’t need to sync it with a computer. Purchases are backed up online by Amazon so you can delete and recover any book you bought.

4. Bezos has an established track record as a visionary
Jeff Bezos packed it all up and moved to Seattle last decade to build his online superstore, beating out zillions of more (and less) established competitors. Amazon.com got many things right, including the important focus on reader reviews, cheap shipping and giant selection. Sure, not everything Bezos has ever conceived has been a hit. I’d say that puts him in Steve Jobs’ camp.

5. It’s cool
(!)

Says Bezos: “This is a 500 year old technology. We forget it is a technology. As readers we don’t think about this often. You print books 16 pages at a time or 32 pages at a time, that collection is called a signature that gets folded, the edged get abraded. the printing press has definitely gotten a lot more sophisticated since Gutenberg’s time. Gutenberg would still recognize a modern-day book.”

“Why are books the last bastion of analog. they have stubbornly resisted digitization.The book is so highly evolved and suited to its tasks that it is hard to displace. the key feature of a book is that it disappears when you read it. All of us readers know that flow state when we read,we don’t think about the glue, the paper, the stitching, allof that goes away. All that remains is the author’s world, and we flow right into that.”

Let’s just say I am putting one one my Wish List!

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