Not content to simply reinvent shopping, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos believes that readingthe old-school, books- printed-on-paper kindis sorely in need of a rethink. So he unveiled a paperback-size, battery-powered digital book reader dubbed the Kindle. It can store hundreds of titles and wirelessly downloads $10 books on demand.
The goal, says Bezos, is to create a device so seamless, book readers will enter a video-game-like "flow state" and "enter the author's world." The strategy, he adds, "is to make the device 'disappear.'" Mixed reviews notwithstanding, the $399 gadget certainly is flying off Amazon's shelves.
Nearly a decade after being anointed TIME's Person of the Year, Bezos, 44, is still leaving his mark on the future. A dotcom highflyer that came perilously close to crashing on Wall Street in 2001, Amazon is up once againthanks to Bezos. The Seattle-based company had sales of $15 billion last year and controls 6% of the $136 billion online-retail market.
The tech world changes faster than a hummingbird flaps its wings. And Amazon's competitors change even faster. But Bezos' mantra has remained constant: Try to give your customers the biggest selection at the best prices, delivered cheaply and easily. That's a great, old-fashioned visionary.
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