Sorry I haven’t had time to post much lately … just way too much going on with the day job and another (non-fiction) writing project I’m working on.
This is just a quick post to highlight what I thought was an interesting interview by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon (and inventor of the Kindle). A few highlights:
LE: How has the Kindle changed your own personal reading habits?
JB: I think like a lot of our Kindle customers, the biggest thing is that I end up reading more. So, it’s just easier to read more. I can have more books with me.
LE: What do you think will be the same five to seven years or further out about the way we read, never mind how the technology advances?
JB: I think one thing that you can count on is that human nature doesn’t change. The human brain doesn’t change. And so one thing that seems to be very, very fundamental is that we like narrative. We like stories. So I don’t think that any amount of eBook technology is going to change the fact that we humans like narrative.
LE: Do you think the appeal of purpose-driven eReaders is likely to diminish as the all-purpose devices get better and better at reading?
JB: No. I think that for serious readers, there will always be a place for a purpose-built reading device, because I think you’ll be able to build a device which is lighter, which matters a lot to people, has better readability if what you’re doing is reading text. You know, as soon as you have to make a device do a bunch of things, it becomes suboptimal for doing the one thing. … Can you go hiking in tennis shoes? Yes, but if you’re a real hiker you might want hiking boots. And so both things, I think, will continue to coexist.
LE: What conviction, personally for you, do you hold onto to avoid wilting under the criticism that comes your way, specifically in the publishing arena?
JB: What I hold onto and what I tell our folks here at Amazon is, if you’re going to invent, if you’re going to do anything at all in a new way there are going to be people who sincerely misunderstand, and there are going to be also self-interested critics who have a reason to misunderstand. You’ll get both types.
But if you can’t weather that misunderstanding for long periods of time, then you just have to hang up your hat as an inventor. It’s part and parcel with invention. Invention is by its very nature disruptive. And if you want to be understood, if it’s so important for you to be understood at all times, then don’t do anything new.
The full transcript of the interview is here; I think it’s worth reading.