October 7, 2014

Washington Post, Jeff would like to introduce you to these Amazon devices


When Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post last year, we all wondered why. Why would Bezos want to get into newspapers? Surely newspapers are grazing peacefully alongside the “sickly gazelles” (read: publishers) that Bezos is out to hunt.

Now that Jeff and the Post have been together for about a year, things are serious enough that he’s introducing the Post to his family. That is, to the company he started twenty years ago.

Yesterday it was announced that Bezos is interested in bringing together the Post and Amazon. Dubbed “Project Rainbow” internally (for some inexplicable reason),  Bezos aims to make Washington Post content Kindle and phone-friendly. A Post app will be pre-loaded on various Amazon devices, and Kerry Lauerman, formerly the editor-in-chief at Salon, is in charge of “Project Rainbow.”

Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store, reports for Bloomberg Businessweek:

For the past few months, a group inside the Post has been working on a new application that will offer a curated selection of news and photographs from the daily newspaper in a magazine-style, tablet-friendly format. The application will come preinstalled on Amazon’s newly updated Kindle Fire tablet, expected to be launched later this fall.

…Amazon has placed a unique bet that editorially produced content, such as Amazon-published books, Amazon-produced TV shows, and now perhapsWashington Post-published news, can attract additional users.

Are Washington Post readers actually going to go out of their way to purchase Amazon products after this endorsement? Seems unlikely. Will reader data on the Kindles, all two of the phones they’ve sold, etc. teach Bezos anything about the average reader? Will he go after another media source next?



Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.