Amazon’s head honcho Jeff Bezos told the Wall Street Journal that a good model for understanding the future of the printed book is that of the horse-transportation method. In this day and age, horses are still perfectly good modes of transport—it’s just that the use cases of planes, trains and automobiles are, in most cases, more suitable to the desired results of the consumer.
So. Horses great, cars better. I like The Black Stallion as much as anyone but okay, sure. I get that—but it’s still a gigantic leap to print great, eBooks better. The ‘problems’ that Bezos suggests are being solved by the Kindle aren’t really big issues for most readers, are they?
Sometimes big, heavy hardcover books do break you out of the flow because you get hand fatigue. Or turning pages can be loud if you have a spouse sleeping next to you. There are things about physical books that we’re accustomed to but that actually aren’t very good.
There are things about books that aren’t good. Portability and access are also discussed by Bezos which I think are the key selling points for the Kindle. But the ability to bump up font size or carry 60 books are only attractive (albeit very attractive) to niche markets.
Maybe it’s just a matter of time before highways and parking lots replace back trails and barns in the world of literature. But unless eReaders offer an advantage over books that matters to middle-of-the-road consumers, the landscape itself is going to have to evolve to suit the devices. What does that world look like? A society wide concern about paper use or carbon footprint might shift things. Significant increases in individual wealth globally and a demand for immediate content might too. All things considered, though, we’re a long way from the time when these horses need to be put to pasture.
Read the full interview at www.wsj.com