Jeff Bezos and the Wow Factor
Double meeting room 403AB at the Los Angeles Convention Center was filled last Saturday—close to 1,000 people. Jeff Bezos (pronounced Bayzos), the peripatetic founder and CEO of the Amazon.com behemoth, took the stage. Wiry and balding, Bezos wore jeans, an open collar shirt and jacket. He produced one of his small, incredibly thin and lightweight book-storage and reading machines—the Kindle—and started reading:
Throughout American history, presidential ministrations have undergone tumultuous periods of war and scandal. I happened to become White House press secretary at a time when the administration of George W. Bush was going through both, and they were intimately related to each other.
A titter ran through the audience.
These are the opening lines of Scott McClellan’s new runaway best-seller, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” Bezos told the audience. The physical book is sold out and won’t be back in stock until June. He was able to download it in the car in just 60 seconds on the way over to the Convention Center.
With the Kindle system, Bezos told us, a book is never of out of stock or out of print, and it’s available anywhere in 60 seconds.
Books serve two purposes: (1) to be read and (2) furniture—they fill bookshelves in order to give a homeowner (or renter or businessperson) a feeling of self-worth and to impress family, friends, customers and clients. Lawyers are especially into the business of impressing clients with endless shelves of esoteric law books—all of them completely unnecessary in this epoch of instant Web research.
“Anything that lasts 500 years is not easily improved upon,” Bezos told us. “Books are so good you can’t out-book the book.”
For us readers, Jeffrey P. Bezos may well revolutionize our lives—as well as those of book publishers, authors and booksellers.