For Jeff Bezos, the ‘great run’ for books is over. Really?

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Jeff Bezos sat down with Steven Levy at Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference in New York for a conversation called ‘Having Confidence on the Edge.’ They talked about which size Kindle is best to read in bed, textbooks and the Kindle, and the Google Books Settlement. ‘We have strong opinions about that issue,’ the Wall Street Journal reported Bezos as saying, ‘which I’m not going to share.’

Tech guru Tim O’Reilly has already posted some bon mots from Bezos, whom he calls ‘very quotable,’ noting that he said, ‘I get grumpy now when I have to read a physical book.’


Because Wired has made the video available, we can transcribe this part of the conversation in full (it’s also after the jump).

Levy: For a special book, do you still want to read the physical book?

Bezos: No. No, in fact, I now ... I kind of am grumpy when I am forced to read a physical book. Because it’s not as convenient. Turning the pages ... I didn’t know this either, until I started using the Kindles a couple months ago, I mean a couple years ago, I didn’t understand all of the failings of a physical book, because I’m inured to them. But you can’t turn the page with one hand. The book is always flopping itself shut at the wrong moment. They’re heavy. You can only take one or two of them with you at a time. It’s had a great 500-year run. [Audience laughter.] It’s an unbelievably successful technology. But it’s time to change.

Which seems an odd thing to say for an empire built on the bindings and pages of actual hard-copy books. But Bezos is looking forward, not backward.

But is he? Is Bezos right? Is the book’s 500-year run over?

-- Carolyn Kellogg