Here is an excerpt from an article (“Why Bezos Was Surprised by Kindle’s Success”) written by Daniel Lyons that was featured by Newsweek.com 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.”
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.
News item: Tony Romo got a Kindle for Christmas, his favorite gift — he is a voracious reader…
Slate.com has a terrific interview conducted by Daniel Lyons with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon (borrowed from Newsweek). Here are two key lessons to learn from Bezos from this interview:
1) Start with the customer, and work backwards from there. This reminds me of the foundational truth from Drucker: “Who is your customer? And, What does your customer consider value?”
2) Innovation is an ongoing necessity, because “the world changes out from under you,” so you always have to be innovating, and learning new things, always adding to your skill set.
Here are the key excerpts:
Lyons: Amazon started off as a retailer. Now you’re also selling computing services, and you’re in the consumer-electronics business with the Kindle. How do you define what Amazon is today?
Bezos: We start with the customer and we work backward. We learn whatever skills we need to service the customer. We build whatever technology we need to service the customer. The second thing is, we are inventors, so you won’t see us focusing on “me too” areas. We like to go down unexplored alleys and see what’s at the end. Sometimes they’re dead ends. Sometimes they open up into broad avenues and we find something really exciting. And then the third thing is, we’re willing to be long-term-oriented, which I think is one of the rarest characteristics. If you look at the corporate world, a genuine focus on the long term is not that common. But a lot of the most important things we’ve done have taken a long time.
Lyons: You’ve talked about Kindle being this example of working backward from the customer. Can you explain that?
Bezos: We had to acquire new skills. There’s a tendency, I think, for executives to think that the right course of action is to stick to the knitting—stick with what you’re good at. That may be a generally good rule, but the problem is the world changes out from under you if you’re not constantly adding to your skill set.