I foolishly thought I was on vacation this week. I was quietly sitting by the fire in my mother’s house in Connecticut, trying to ignore the howling winds outside, when I came across a Newsweek interview with my latest nemesis, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com. I would like to share the following excerpt from the end of the interview to illustrate, yet again, why Mr. Bezos is the antichrist (see below). I’m not sure what to say about his theory, except that it makes me sad, even if I think he’s wrong. Is the world a better place and are we really going to be a better society without printed books like the Gutenberg Bible, Carl Jung’s The Red Book, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, or Cartier-Bresson’s The Man, the Image, and the World?
Bezos: I do. I don’t know how long it will take. You know, we love stories and we love narrative; we love to get lost in an author’s world. That’s not going to go away; that’s going to thrive. But the physical book really has had a 500-year run. It’s probably the most successful technology ever. It’s hard to come up with things that have had a longer run. If Gutenberg were alive today, he would recognize the physical book and know how to operate it immediately. 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.
NW: Do you still read books on paper?
Bezos: Not if I can help it.