Sunday, July 29, 2012

TheKindleChronicle's Len Edgerly and Jeff Bezos sit down for an interesting interview on the Kindle, long-form reading, 3G, location numbers, multimedia ebooks and more

On The Kindle Chronicles blog Thursday, July 27, Len Edgerly offers some notes on his two very full days in Seattle, during which he met with Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos for an 18-minute interview.

This marked the completion of the first four years of Len's weekly podcast which is now also a blog with written articles.  Len Edgerly's site is both informative and entertaining, quite addictive for many interested in the Kindle, other e-readers, and the e-reading publishing scene in general.  His interviews are with those heavily involved in all aspects of publishing.

The energy in this interview is more youthful than I'd expected, since neither of these guys is in his 20's but you'd not know it from their enthusiasm for books, reading in general, and for finding innovative ways to encourage long-form reading in a short-form world.

  Bezo's planning has always been the long-range type, and he took some intense criticism during the first few years of a non-profit Amazon despite his having said it would take years to build.  Now he's often characterized by publishers as a ruthless future monopolist while others wonder why he's allowing the company to show lower net profits this quarter due to a good portion of revenue being put back into growing the service and distribution areas as well as its ecosystem.  But enough people understand it and the stock went up after the results were announced.

  In the interview, Bezos says, re innovators, that if you need to be always understood, then don't do anything new.  His infamous laugh may not only break the microphone but comes from a businessman who thinks of his work as fun.

Multi-media books
  There's a section on the effect or place of multimedia books, which many had felt would be the 'new' e-book, replacing the traditional book, but much that interests people in a book -- the inner dialog for one -- can't really be caught in a multimedia approach, Bezos says.

  Multimedia additions can detract from the flow of the words that the author wrote without anticipating interruptions for a video or music.  With a straight-text book, the reader does much of the work, using the imagination with what the author presents, rather than passively taking things in as we do with multimedia.  I personally like the use of multimedia at the end of a book meant only to be read, where the added material can be optional and likely very useful.

3G use on Kindles
  He has interesting things to say about the 3G versions of the various Kindles, a popular option, and this includes his statement that "people who buy that Kindle are the people who read the most."  Edgerly asks him why, and you can hear the podcast interview for the response.
  He also mentions that the 3G works globally, roaming options and all (for Kindle book downloads, Kindle bookstore, and Wikipedia).

  Most know that any 3G data, at all, is expensive to just give away -- the 3G capability alone, before one starts paying monthly data fees, costs $130 to add the option to an otherwise WiFi-only Apple iPad.

  Currently B&N offers no 3G Nook e-Ink reader in its newer models and Sony doesn't offer 3G book downloads in the U.S.

  Yet Amazon offers, globally, on its new Kindle Touch (UK: KTouch) and older Kindles, free 3G data transfers for download of Kindle books, browsing the Kindle store on the device, and browsing Wikipedia 24/7 in countries outside the US where normal carrier and AT&T partners' roaming charges are very high.  It still offers free 3G for slow web browsing in the U.S. and 60 other countries on the older Kindle Keyboard (UK: KKeyboard) and Kindle DX models.
  Bezos does explain why they do it.

  They also discuss LOCATION numbers vs Page numbers and what customers have told Amazon about that and Amazon's thoughts on that.

Future Kindles?
Len Edgerly explains that we all know that they stay mum on future products, so that kind of question was not on the list.  Probably it would have been a waste of time.

The Kindle Mission
  Now, realizing Bezos and team are first and foremost, businesspeople with bottom-line goals, who too often feel they need to be hardnosed or not particularly forthcoming, and not always making decisions in our favor, I still like Bezos' stated philosophy or sense of mission:
' Yeah, absolutely! I think it’s the love of reading personally and it’s also that we on the Kindle team take it as an article of faith that reading is important for civilization.  So we feel this powerful mission, and it’s exciting...
  I think if people read more, that is a better world.  So I would posit that as an article of faith. '

  Their interest in reading IS shown in all the unusual features they've made for content, such as instant-translation (for understanding) and X-Ray, pre-packaging info that people would probably want to look up, from the book, as an associated file, including instant links to each appearance of a character's name in a book if you tap the character's name in the X-Ray menu for the page you're on.

  The team also made a personal annotations webpage on Amazon servers for each Kindle owner.  This webpage holds and displays the notes and highlighting made for any of your books in the order they appear in the Kindle book (unless you opt out of the feature).  You can then copy, edit, or print these, if making a book report, say, or when discussing pages with bookclub members, etc.

At any rate, the interview is fun to hear and I like Bezos' energy.  Again, the interview by Len Edgerly (who prefaces the conversation with his entertaining observations on trying to find the meeting place and preparing to meet with the CEO who is not known for doing interviews) starts at the 11:45 mark.  Of course the Kindle news and tech tips are worth hearing too.

There'll be a link to the transcript soon, which I read today in Stephen Windwalker's emailed Weekender for his Kindle Nation Daily blog, which gets some of Len's reports a day early.

  The transcript will be available on TheKindleChronicles site soon, and I'll update this with a link later.

Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.
Updated Kindle Fire Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $299/$369
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $499/$599
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $99/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G/WiFi - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free but slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. I had to laugh at myself because after reading this interview, I finally made up my mind that I was going to go back to a 3G Kindle when the next model is released. I'm hoping its a self lighted model.

    And again I have to laugh because as in love I am with my tablet, I'm horrified by the thought of using it as my main reader. Too distracting.

  2. Jazz, a tablet (whether a Kindle Fire or other) really IS a distraction and it's worse because I CAN read books on it pretty comfortably indoors now that we have dimming and tint change features.

    But it's always a pleasure to pick up the really light e-Ink (whether KTouch or KK which I'm keeping active) and then to see how clear it is for reading. So many choices...


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