Fortune just published a long interview with Jeff Bezos. They ask him about whether he's concerned about the iPad:
Bezos: No. The iPad… I think there are going to be a bunch of tablet-like devices. It's really a different product category. The Kindle is for readers.
And they ask him if the e-book will change the idea of the book:
I think the definition of a book is changing. It's getting more convenient. Now you can get a book in less than 60 seconds. But in some ways, books are also staying exactly the same. The whole narrative isn't changing. The book is not really the container for the book. The book itself is the narrative. It's the thing that people create. There's another way that it's not changing, and that's that the book — the physical book — is designed to disappear and get out of the way so you can enter the author's world. So when you're reading a physical paper book, you're not thinking about the ink and the glue and the stitching. All of those things vanish so you can focus on the author's words. The Kindle's designed to be the same so when you're reading, the whole device vanishes, so that you're left with the author's world.
The interesting thing about this is that Bezos seems to be almost running counter to Amazon's Kindle strategy. Amazon recently added audio and visual elements to their Kindle app for the iPad and iPhone, suggesting that they see e-books as incorporating more than a simple text document.
I disagree with Bezos and agree with Amazon's changes to the iPad app here: I think novels will change with e-books, simply because the capacity for multimedia is too promising, and too readily available, to pass up. Because the capability is there, people will certainly use that capability. Many e-books will eventually become very different experiences from print books, and I think the e-ink e-reader is going to be a relic very soon.