This may, ultimately, prove to be Amazon’s truly crucial role—not driving the future of reading so much as the future of writing. E-reading technology will push forward even without Amazon’s involvement. The Kindle will soon face stiff competition from a bevy of able competitors. Sony already has an E Ink reader on the market, as does iRex Technologies, and the latter allows you to scrawl notes on the screen with an electronic stylus, then upload those notes to your computer. In the next year, Polymer Vision will bring out Readius, a cell phone that includes an E Ink reader with a rollable screen. Amazon, of course, has plenty of resources and by far the best market position. But if the Kindle’s successor or competitors are to succeed, it will be because Amazon used its status as the world’s largest online bookseller to force authors to think seriously about creating content that works better than the book, that goes where the book cannot, that’s interactive and cooperative and open in ways that printed text will never be. 

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To watch Klein discussing the future of reading, click here.

 

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Ezra Klein is an associate editor at The American Prospect.