Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the Kindle Reader

Jeff Bezos has always intrigued me with his innovative ideas and visionary approach to his business,, which he launched in 1994. I previously wrote about him and his company here.

When asked in a December, 2009 Newsweek article (by Daniel Lyons) about the success and broadening of his business, Jeff Bezos stated, “We learn whatever skills we need to service the customer. We build whatever technology we need to service the customer. The second thing is, we are inventors, so you won't see us focusing on "me too" areas. We like to go down unexplored alleys and see what's at the end. Sometimes they're dead ends. Sometimes they open up into broad avenues and we find something really exciting.

Of course his latest exciting adventure is the successful Kindle reader, but Kindle didn’t happen overnight according to Bezos. He said this about the development of the Kindle: “It's been on the market for two years, but we worked on it for three years in earnest before that. We talked about it for a year before that. We had to go hire people to build a hardware--engineering team to build the device. We had to acquire new skills. There's a tendency, I think, for executives to think that the right course of action is to stick to the knitting—stick with what you're good at. That may be a generally good rule, but the problem is the world changes out from under you if you're not constantly adding to your skill set.”

You see what I mean about a visionary attitude, and the guts to take risks and move forward?

I was somewhat surprised by the stats he gave on the success of the Kindle and his comment that he was “astonished” by the success of the Kindle. “Two years ago, none of us expected what has happened so far. It is [our] No. 1 bestselling product. It's the No. 1 most-wished-for product as measured by people putting it on their wish list. It's the No. 1 most-gifted item on Amazon. And I'm not just talking in electronics—that's true across all product categories. We've spent years working on our physical books business, and today, for titles that have a Kindle edition, Kindle book sales are 48 percent of the physical sales. That's up from 35 percent in May. The business is growing very quickly. This is not just a business for us. There is missionary zeal. We feel like Kindle is bigger than we are.”

Apparently Bezos believes that physical books are on their way out...although he admits he does not know how long that will take but they have had a five hundred year run. He stated, “Given how much change there has been everywhere else, what's remarkable is how stable the book has been for so long. But no technology, not even one as elegant as the book, lasts forever.”

I personally do not have a Kindle yet....maybe one day, but I am so interested because I am now selling 10 items through Kindle (fiction and nonfiction). I am making sales in the two to four months that my works have been available in that format. To hear that the Kindle book sales are nearly half of the Amazon book sales, sounds pretty good to me.

I’ve always get a kick out of Jeff Bezos’ humor and laughter. Maybe his attitude has helped him to succeed and laugh at the obstacles, ups and downs, and challenges along the way.

He seems to be enjoying the journey...

He dares to risk...

Maybe we all need to do more of that.


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