Kindle boss Jeff Bezos told USA Today that he expects Kindle ebook unit sales to exceed paperback sales on Amazon within 9-12 months. Says Bezos about the speed of ebook take-up, “It stuns me. People forget that the Kindle is only 33 months old.”
Bezos is busy on the talking circuit following the announcement of the third generation Kindle ebook reader.
A somewhat more dubious part of the same interview was Bezos’ reply to the question of why Amazon still doesn’t support the industry standard ePub format.
We are innovating so rapidly that having our own standard allows us to incorporate new things at a very rapid rate. For example: Whispersync (which uses wireless connections to sync your place in a book across devices) and changing font sizes.
The innovate argument might work for Bill Gates or Steve Jobs but it sounds glib in Amazon’s case. Kindles are not high end technology and it’s hard to see how control of the Kindle’s mobi format has been essential to the innovations he cites. Changing font sizes is hardly unique to Amazon. And, given that both ePub and mobi formats use an underlying, easily accessible XML structure, it’s hard to see how Amazon’s Whispersync technology, or something doing the same job, wouldn’t have happened in an ePub world (latecomer Barnes and Noble is rolling it out, for instance).