Amazon Highlights: Jeff Bezos Interview, an E-Commerce Competitor, and Nook Reviews

With the holiday shopping season here, it’s a good time to recap how Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is doing in the marketplace. No, not with a frothy piece about the company’s best sales quarter yet or its latest flashy Kindle update. In case you missed it, there have been a number of informative media stories in the last day or so that highlight Amazon’s competitive position:

—Deborah Solomon of the New York Times Magazine published a rare Q&A with Amazon honcho Jeff Bezos yesterday. I took some pleasure in reading the interview, which touched on digital books and e-readers, on good old-fashioned paper. In classic form, Bezos talked about the competition (e.g., the Nook e-reader) without talking about it. But the most informative bits were that (1) Bezos puts his Kindle in a Ziploc bag to read it in the bath, and (2) for every 100 copies of a physical book Amazon sells, it sells 48 copies of the Kindle edition. “It won’t be too long before we’re selling more electronic books than we are physical books,” Bezos says. “It’s astonishing.”

—The New York Times’ Steve Lohr wrote about an intriguing company called Next Jump, which is based in New York with offices in the Boston area and London. According to Lohr, industry analysts say Next Jump “represents the future of online commerce and could emerge as a counterweight to Amazon.” The company makes a product marketing engine that does “microtargeting” of potential customers, and forms non-competitive partnerships with retailers. Next Jump was founded by Tufts University student Charlie Kim back in 1994, and one of its goals is “to assemble one of the largest Internet engineering teams on the East Coast,” the story says. Amazon and Google, take notice.

—How about that Nook? Every time I go to Barnes & Noble to try out their new e-book reader, they don’t have any test versions available. Plus they’re sold out of the device until January—a big advantage for the Kindle this holiday season. But early reviews of the Nook, which runs on Android and has some nifty features in its interface, are now coming in. For example, one from CNET today gripes a little about the Nook’s slowness and battery life, but calls it “a worthy and enticing alternative to the Kindle.”

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