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February 2008 - Interview with Andrew Herdener, of Kindle/Amazon:

Everyone wants to know, what’s up with this Kindle? Bookhitch got the lowdown from Amazon’s own Andrew Herdener.

You are the senior public relations manager for Kindle. What has your job entailed for the past few months?

I've spent a lot of time speaking with dozens of journalists around the world about Kindle. It's been a very exciting time.

If someone knew nothing about the e-reader Kindle, how would you explain it to them? What's your favorite feature of the Kindle?

I would tell them that Kindle is a revolutionary portable reader that wirelessly downloads books, blogs, magazines and newspapers to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight. It's hard to pick my favorite feature, but I would have to say its "wirelessness". The fact that I can think of a book, wherever I am, and be reading it in a minute is amazing to me.

There has been a lot of talk about choice of names for this product. So, why the name Kindle?

The reason we named the device "Kindle" is because we want to kindle people's love of reading.

How does an author go about creating a Kindle version of his/her book? Does he/she have to be already published?

They can either work through their publisher or do it themselves using the Digital Text Platform. Publishers and authors can submit their content and make it available to Kindle customers by using Amazon's new Digital Text Platform (DTP), a fast and easy self-publishing tool that lets anyone upload and sell their books in the Kindle Store.

What new features/improvements are in the works for the Kindle? Will you eventually accept the industry standard of PDF files?

We don't discuss what features we may or may not add.

Two days ago, a NY Times article quoted Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, saying this, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is; the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.” As a product focused on the book industry, how would those at Kindle respond? How are you marketing Kindle so that it reaches people, readers and non-readers alike?

We think that reading is very much alive and well and that there's good evidence of that in the early success of our Kindle business. The first audience for Kindle is obviously readers and we have a great set of customers right in front of us on our website.

With the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in the news over the past few days, are you going to add an environmentally friendly stance to your e-book reader, and do you think this will help widen the acceptance of the e-book concept?

We've heard from lots of customers that one of their favorite things about Kindle is that it saves paper. Content owners no longer need to manufacture books with Kindle and our customers like that a lot.

How is Kindle going to change the book publishing industry as we know it?

We think that it is already starting to do so. We think that putting so much reading material at the fingertips of readers is very powerful and could change how people read.

We would especially like to extend our thanks to Mr. Herdener for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. We hope that his responses have answered some of the questions you have had about Amazon’s latest product.


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