Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Analog Books: A Kabillion Sold; E-Books: Not So Much

Below is a video interview with Amazon’s majordomo Jeff Bezos conducted by The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Trachtenberg about the new $400 Kindle wireless electronic-book reader that the online retailer unveiled last week.

So far the reviews have been less than whelming–too clunky, too pricey, too wonky, to name a few of the complaints–but it’s interesting that tech types keep at their seemingly futile effort to replace the very useful device known as the book.

At D4, for example, Sony head Howard Stringer (pictured below) declared its $350 eReader was going to be a big hit. It was not. (Well, to be fair, he did not give an exact timetable on the success of the gadget, but we’re still waiting.)

stringer

So far, the meek little book still seems to be the winner over all e-book challengers.

Why is that, given the relentless digitization of every bit of content on the planet and the inevitable march in that direction?

I’d say it’s pretty simple. Books work fine–they are portable, cheap, easy to read, their batteries never die and they’re kind of pretty.

The pluses of an electronic version of a book are not so much of a plus. It’s portable, but not more so than a book. It’s expensive. It’s complex to figure out and sometimes not so easy to read. Its batteries always die. Also, let’s be honest: Not so pretty.

And, though you can hold more books on them–the big selling point–who usually is reading more than one or two books at a time? The same is true for searchability–unless it is a textbook, I can’t think of a time when I really wanted to search a book.

Still, the efforts to storm the castle of reading continues, as you will see here:


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