Q: Tell me, what do you think of the Amazon Kindle?
A: I think it’s an excellent revisable beginning. The tech stuff on it is great, also that Amazon is behind it, but I want to see it go from looking like the early giant cell-phones of the ’90s to looking like an iPhone, by next year. I want it to be so sexy and goodlooking that next year, kids’ parents wait in long lines to get them and fight over it because their kid should have the cool Kindle. I want designer skins for it, and I want promo skins for it, and I want the subscription rates offered for it to reflect that I’m getting content and design but not actual paper, and so it should cost less than paper subscriptions. I want short stories and poems to be as hot as iTunes singles, to sign into an Amazon version of iTunes and get emails from Amazon alerting me to the new availability of a Miranda July or Yiyun Li story and then to pull out my super-sexy slim gleaming Kindle with my promotional skin designed by Anders Nilsen or Gabrielle Bell, and to click and buy it and have it. Like that. Because right now, I think that it’s a mistake that it costs the same as an X-Box 360 but doesn’t have, say, custom skins—I can get a Halo 3 skin for my X-Box 360 and that’s who I am as a consumer. Most readers really are the sort of people who judge a book by its cover, and they’re going to want something pretty or cool or both.
So, you might want to put Miranda July in charge of the skins design. With Apple. Or the Penguin Classics people who are putting out the classics with the new covers by graphic novelists. Or the New Yorker—magazines could make their own skins if their content is available in the Kindle format. And you could charge them advertising for it and then sell it. And by you I mean You-who-are-in-charge and who can make this happen. And are perhaps Googling right now to see what people have to say about the Kindle.
Reading is sexy. So, let’s make all the gear for the next generation of the book sexy and profitable. It’s called Kindle, so . . it needs to be hot.*
*Yes, that was kind of corny. But thanks for reading. Many people were saying no one would try to make the e-book work so thank you to Mr. Bezos and Amazon for trying.