Jeff Bezos on Kindle – 2008

This is a compilation of various Amazon Kindle facts, design considerations, and future blueprints that Jeff Bezos has revealed in interviews etc. Its the 2008 version. It gets much more interesting in 2008 – mostly a function of Kindle’s success, coupled with the absolute secrecy around the degree of success.

Bezos on Kindle, 2008 –

  1. Mr. Bezos answering a question on book availability on the Kindle [Staci D Kramer interview from PaidContent.org] –
  2. “The vision for Kindle is every book ever in print in any language—all available in less than 60 seconds. That’s the vision. To really literally get every book – that’s in print, out of print, every language – that’s going to takes us years of work. We want to make it possible for you to have instant reading access to any book that’s ever been created. Visions take a long time to achieve. It’s a bold vision but I think it’s a really cool vision and we’re excited about it.”

  3. Walt Mossberg interview of Jeff Bezos at ‘All Things D’ Conference (this + next 5 snippets; also video version). This had a lot of good snippets. The first was that Amazon got into making the Kindle because it was a customer need, as opposed to an Amazon skillset.
  4. Mr. Bezos (and this is an important metric in terms of Kindle’s popularity at that time) – “On a title-by-title basis, Kindle unit sales now account for more than 6% of Amazon book sales for the 120,000 titles that are available on Kindle.”  
  5. Interview date is May 28, 2008, and Mr. Bezos says – The next iteration of the device is a ways off.
  6. Also Mr. Bezos said that if an e-book competitor added decent Web browsing to its e-book, Amazon might too. “In some ways the Web is the most important book in the world.”
  7. When asked about DRM on the Kindle – Bezos says Kindle’s default setting is DRM-free. It’s DRM agnostic and publishers determine how the device will manage their copyrights. Mr. Bezos: “My own view is that DRM-free does not slow down sales.”
  8. When asked whether there will be a version 2 soon, Mr. Bezos instead said – “There will be a first version and a second version and a tenth version. It will probably take us 10 years to develop it but you have to get started.”
  9. [Smart Money interview on Nov 28th – this + next]  When asked if he thinks the Kindle will lengthen attention spans shortened by the Internet, Mr. Bezos said “Yes, I think people will read more, not less”.
  10. Mr. Bezos on adding color and animation to the Kindle screen –

    “Color or animation isn’t likely. E Ink [the type of technology Kindle employs] display doesn’t support color in a commercial way. Plus, the rapid screen updates required for animation create eyestrain. The Kindle is more like a printed page — easier on your eyes.”

  11. [David LaGesse Interview Oct 29th, 2008 – this + next] When asked about Kindle sales –

    We’re now up to over 190,000 titles on Kindle. That is double the number of titles we had at launch. More than 10 percent of book units we sell in that universe of titles is in Kindle format. We took 14 years building our physical books business. To have more than 10 percent of unit sales already being Kindle format where we have both Kindle version and a physical version is pretty astonishing to us.

  12. When asked if the Kindle could also sub as a media player, Mr. Bezos said “We’re very focused on making Kindle a purpose-built reading device. Reading is important enough that it deserves a purpose-built device.” 

Really interesting to see that for versions of books available in Kindle and physical format, Kindle sales already are 10% (in number of units sold) of the total. Also, it’s cool that Amazon is committing to the Kindle on a long term basis – perhaps, they should buy out the eInk company and expand capacity so they don’t miss any more Christmas seasons.

Refurbished Kindle $119, $169 – Stock Check

November 2010 Update – Amazon has added the refurbished Kindle 2 for $119. The refurbished Kindle 2 US is still out of stock.

It’s the first time that a refurbished version of the international Kindle 2 has been made available and it’s also the lowest the refurbished kindle 2 US has ever gone.

Look for Amazon to see how customers react and then play around with prices a little bit – However, get the $189 version now if you want it as they might feel there is a lot of demand and bump up the prices.

2009, Sept 15th: Get $189 Refurbished Kindle 2s at Amazon. Also, price of the refurbished kindle (first generation) has been dropped to $149.

2009, July 16th update: Get $199 Refurbished Kindles at Amazon. This is a price cut from the earlier $249 price and offered via Amazon’s warehouse deals.

Dec 11th 5:01 pm – Refurbished Kindles for $329 currently available at Amazon. Sold out in 3 or so hours.

9:30 pm – Out of Stock. 4:11 pm Dec 3rd – .

12:18am Dec 3rd – Out of stock again. Up and down.

11:30 pm Dec 2nd – Refurbished Kindles for $329 available again at Amazon.

Refurbished Kindles for $329 are available again at Amazon.Current as of 3:56 pm Dec 2nd. best of luck getting one. Dec 2nd 6:35 pm update – again sold out

Noticed this morning that refurbished Kindles are now sold out, and that there are a bunch of used Kindles available for $559. Refurbished Kindles back in stock Dec 2nd. I’m not going to link to them because I think that’s outrageous and you should just wait around till refurbished kindles are back. Also, I think Amazon should not let people sell refurbished kindles through amazon marketplace – it’s just crazy that people bought a refurbished kindle yesterday and are selling it today (for $700 no less).

At ebay, people are selling various flavors of Kindle –

  1. Official Amazon refurbished Kindles for $399, and for $599. Everyone is welcome to their own moral structure – however, I personally think it’s rather unsporting to buy one just to sell on eBay. Amazon should restrict it to 1 refurbished Kindle sold per person – especially given how quickly they sold out.
  2. Used Kindles for around $549.
  3. New ones for $750 to $1050. There are ones starting from $600 – however, those haven’t had bidding start – some of them have Buy It Now prices around $650.

Jeff Bezos on Kindle Reader – 2007

Through the life of the Kindle Reader, Mr. Bezos has had a lot of interviews where he’s been asked about the Kindle, and these have been the main source of otherwise elusive Kindle information. I’ve gone through as many of his interviews as I could find, and listed some of the more important things that have been said. This one covers 2007, and there’ll be one covering 2008 down the line –

Bezos on Kindle, Nov and Dec 2007 –  

  1. Bezos on who he sees buying the Kindle – “Heavy Readers (anyone who has 3-4 books open at a time); Travelers”. [from Erick Schonfeld’s Interview + next 2]
  2. Bezos on subscription costs for blogs/newspapers –  “People will understand the subscription charge is essential to cover the wireless delivery”.
  3. On why kindle edition books aren’t DRM free – “We’ve made it so the publishers can choose. Publishers are not ready to do DRM-free books”.  
  4. Bezos on Charlie Rose: “Started working on kindle in 2004; eBooks weren’t selling; Books are the last bastion of analog; a lot of converging technologies began to make the kindle a possibility around 2004.” [Charlie Rose website– btw, Charlie Rose is a rock star + next 1]
  5. Bezos on Charlie Rose: “The book is so highly evolved that it disappears when you’re reading – all that remains is the author’s world. This became our top design objective for the Kindle”.
  6. Jeff Bezos at the W Hotel in NYC (where the Kindle was revealed on Nov 19th – via CNet) –

    “We forget (that the printed book) is a 500-year-old technology, and we sort of forget that it’s even a technology,” Bezos mused. “Gutenberg would still recognize a modern-day book.”

  7. Bezos: “This isn’t a book, it’s a service”. [The Future of Reading Article by Stephen Levy + next 3] 
  8. (Something that might explain kindle’s lack of sex appeal) Bezos again: “The key feature of a book is that it disappears,”
  9. Bezos on lending Kindle Editions –  He’s open to the idea of eventually doing that (books have a loan period and evaporate after the loan period) with the Kindle.

Ending note for the Newsweek interview –

“This is the most important thing we’ve ever done,” says Jeff Bezos. “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.”

The stress Mr. Bezos places on making the Kindle unobtrusive is interesting. I wasn’t really aware of how much weight this design aspect/feature was given when designing the Kindle. Also, interesting to think of the book as a technology – I’d never realized that it is, after all, a communications technology.