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Kindle 2 Preview: Jeff Bezos on Why Amazon Works Backwards

On Monday, Amazon is scheduled to unveil the new version of the Kindle, its hot-selling e-book reader. We’ll be covering the event here in New York, so be sure to check for details.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here are excerpts from my recent interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in which he discussed the origins of the Kindle:

FC: You’ve gone from selling electronics to making one, the Kindle. Why?

Bezos: There are two ways to extend a business. And we do some of both. Take inventory of what you’re good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills. Kindle is an example of working backward.

We’ve been working many years, 12 years perhaps, selling e-books, and you needed an electron microscope to find the sales. Nobody came. Nobody wanted them. Nobody needed e-books. Four years ago, when we started working on Kindle, we saw there were a few different technologies that were converging, and becoming mature enough that we could meld together into a service.

The key thing is there was the wireless connectivity built in, what we call "whisper net." It’s the same advanced network that 3G cell phones use, but we hide all the complexity. There’s no monthly bill. We bundle the delivery into the cost of the book.

So it’s that 3G wireless technology together with electronic ink display. Anybody who sees it for the first time does a double take because it doesn’t look anything like traditional computer displays. You bring those things together and a seamless customer experience—that’s what has made Kindle work.

Related Post: Amazon's Kindle 2 E-Reader to Debut on February 9