NEWSWEEK: COVER: Books Aren't Dead. (They're Just Going Digital.)

Launch of the Amazon Kindle: The First 'Always-On' Book Represents a

Milestone in a Time of Transition in the Possible Demise of Print Culture

'It's so Ambitious to Take Something as Highly Evolved as the Book and

Improve on it,' says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 'And Maybe Even Change the Way

People Read.'

Newsweek Explores What Will Happen When Books Are Persistently Connected

Nov 18, 2007, 00:00 ET from Newsweek

    NEW YORK, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- CEO Jeff Bezos will be
 releasing the Amazon Kindle (named to evoke the crackling ignition of
 knowledge) this week, an electronic device that he hopes will leapfrog over
 previous attempts at e-readers and become the turning point in a
 transformation toward Book 2.0. "This is the most important thing we've
 ever done," Bezos tells Senior Editor and Columnist Steven Levy, the first
 journalist to have access to the Kindle, in the current issue of Newsweek.
 "It's so ambitious to take something as highly evolved as the book and
 improve on it. And maybe even change the way people read."
     (Photo: )
     Levy writes that Book 2.0 is shorthand for a revolution (already in
 progress) that will change the way readers read, writers write and
 publishers publish. Amazon is well placed to move things forward, but it
 was not something the company took lightly. "If you're going to do
 something like this, you have to be as good as the book in a lot of
 respects," Bezos tells Levy. "But we also have to look for things that
 ordinary books can't do." Features include paperback-size dimensions, being
 able to change font size into an instant large-type edition, and the
 ability to hold several shelves' worth of books, plus hundreds more on a
 memory card and a limitless amount in virtual library stacks maintained by
 Amazon. And the device is not just for books. Via the Amazon store, you can
 subscribe to newspapers and magazines.
     Levy talks to Bezos about the new device and the impact technology will
 have on the future of reading in the November 26 cover, "Books Aren't Dead.
 (They're Just Going Digital.)" (on newsstands Monday, November 19). "Music
 and video have been digital for a long time, and short-form reading has
 been digitized, beginning with the early Web. But long-form reading really
 hasn't," Bezos says. The Kindle represents a milestone in a time of
 transition, when a challenged publishing industry is competing with
 television, Guitar Hero and time burned on the Blackberry; literary critics
 are bemoaning a possible demise of print culture, Levy reports.
     Though the Kindle is at heart a reading machine made by a
 bookseller-and works most impressively when you are buying a book or
 reading it-it is also something more: a perpetually connected Internet
 device. A few twitches of the fingers and that zoned-in connection between
 your mind and an author's machinations can be interrupted-or enhanced-by an
 avalanche of data. Therein lies the disruptive nature of the Amazon Kindle.
 It's the first "always-on" book.
     Levy also explores what kinds of things will happen when books are
 persistently connected, and more-evolved successors of the Kindle become
 commonplace. First of all, it could transform the discovery process for
 readers. 'The problem with books isn't print or writing," says author Chris
 Anderson. "It's that not enough people are reading." (A 2004 National
 Education Association study reported that only 57 percent of adults read a
 book-any book-in a year. That was down from 61 percent a decade ago.) His
 hope is that connected books will either link to other books or allow
 communities of readers to suggest undiscovered gems.
     Levy reports that the connectivity also affects the publishing business
 model, giving some hope to an industry that slogs along with single-digit
 revenue growth while videogame revenues are skyrocketing. "Stuff doesn't
 need to go out of print," says Bezos. "It could shorten publishing cycles."
     Also part of the cover package, as the first journalist to get his
 hands on the device, Levy reviews the Amazon Kindle, available Monday,
 November 19 at
     (Read entire cover story at

SOURCE Newsweek