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No, Amazon Doesn't Want to "Do Away with the Book as We Know It"

Books2 Why does Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen think that Amazon's desire to "reinvent the book" means that they want to kill off everything in print? Read this article and see if you don't come away with the same question.

I think it's marvelous that an organization like Amazon is interested in reinventing the industry. Technology is all around us, so why not figure out a great application for it in the world of books/content? Cohen needs to understand that print books will be with us for many more generations (I have no doubt Amazon realizes this) and it's OK for content to evolve onto other platforms. Anyone care to wager whether Mr. Cohen would have dissed the newfangled "bound book" when it started to replace scrolls?

While it's one thing to reject the e-reader device concept, why in the world would you penalize Amazon for developing print alternatives? I get his point about wanting the local brick-and-mortar stores to survive. I do too, but I'm convinced there will always be a need for your lcoal bookstore, but the services and products it offers might have to evolve as well.

I get a kick out of the fact that so many of Cohen's friends have already adopted the Kindle platform. I just wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry when I read that he actually bought a Kindle for himeself. I hope he gives it a chance and writes a follow-up column about his user experience.



I agree that Amazon's innovation should be praised. But I am not sure whether "print books will be with us for many more generations (I have no doubt Amazon realizes this)." Innovation almost always brings disruption to existing industries, and we often underestimate the pace. I would rather question whether and when the paper book might enter the same fate that hit music CD beginning in this century. My personal best guess is that the paper book is more likely than not to enter music CD's year 2000 in 5-10 years.

Anthony S. Policastro

I think Mr. Cohen doesn't understand the trends rocking the publishing industry. The Kindle is not a book replacement; it is a complimentary book reading device. And there will by many similar devices entering the marketplace very soon. Think about the business traveler who may be reading several books at the same time, some for work, some for pleasure. The Kindle allows them to carry them all on a single device rather than carting three or four books in their baggage.

Printed books will be around for several generations, but there may not be as many as more and more people, especially the younger Internet generations, adopt electronic book readers or use mobile devices to read books. What is happening now is that more and more publishers are looking at better and cheaper ways to print books and one alternative coming into play is print on demand. Take a look at my guest post here on Joe's blog on the future of publishing at http://jwikert.typepad.com/the_average_joe/2008/06/anthony-policastro-on-the-future-of-publishing.html

The publishing industry will be forced by their current business model to print fewer books and right now one of the key technologies allowing them to do this is print on demand.

Tyler Clark

I didn't know that Andy Rooney was writing for 'The Washington Post'.

Mr. Cohen sounds like the old coot sitting on his front porch yelling at the neighborhood kids for hitting baseballs into his front yard. He probably talks frequently about how today's music is just noise. Next week I hope he writes about how sodas only cost a nickle when he was young. I bet $50 that he hates microwaves, too.

"In my day, you said, 'Yes, sir' and 'Yes, ma'am.' Not like these kids today with the MTV and the Amazon Kindles and whatnot."

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