Newsweek did a very interesting piece on Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, and what he envisions as the future of the book, with the introduction of the Kindle, and what many predict will become iPod of e-books. The Kindle, named to “evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge” will use Sprint’s EVDO network, or “whispernet” to download content and surf, will have a battery life of 30 hours (and charges in 2 hours), a 6-inch screen, weighs in at only 10.3 ounces and will be about the same size as a paperback book. The challenge will be to convert book-addicts to e-book buyers:
While those who take fetishlike pleasure in physical books may resist the notion, that vanishing act is what makes electronic reading devices into viable competitors to the printed page: a subsuming connection to the author that is really the basis of our book passion. “I’ve actually asked myself, ‘Why do I love these physical objects?’ ” says Bezos. ” ‘Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?’ The answer is that I associate that smell with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas.”
The Kindle and the whole platform behind it has been in development since 2004, and is now shipping, for $399, which, admittedly is expensive, but hey, so was (and still is) the iPod back in 2001. Hopefully we’ll see a whole range of products down the line, with color displays and other improvements. This is the second major release of a book reader, the first was Sony, with the $299 Sony Reader, which according to Bob Nell, has “exceeded the company’s expectations”. Lets see how this new device and business model performs in the wild, after all, you need a service and a device, like the iTunes-iPod combo, to make an impact.