The last decade has seen a dramatic change in the publishing industry as ebooks and digital audio have gone from a side note to a huge part of the reader experience — and a significant part of independent author incomes. In this episode, I talk to Len Edgerly from The Kindle Chronicles Podcast which started in July 2008. We also talk about the recent US Senate hearing on Big Tech and consider the possible changes ahead.
In the introduction, MS Word has a new Transcribe function as part of its built-in dictation [The Next Web]; Audible launches Audible Plus as the audio subscription model heats up [The Verge]; Amazon releases the Halo, a wearable band that assesses your health but also your tone of voice [Business Wire]; James Daunt of B&N and Waterstones is interested in reviving the Nook as a bigger part of Barnes and Noble [The New Publishing Standard]; plus The Writers Well final episode and why we all need to reassess the direction of our lives during these historic times.
Do you need help finding an editor, book cover designer, or someone to do your book marketing? Find a curated list of vetted professionals at the Reedsy marketplace, along with free training on writing, self-publishing, and book marketing. Check it out at www.TheCreativePenn.com/reedsy
Len Edgerly is a nonfiction author with degrees in business and poetry. He’s also the host of the long-running Kindle Chronicles Podcast, where he’s interviewed Jeff Bezos, Margaret Atwood, and Dean Koontz among many others.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript below.
- Changes in the publishing industry in the past 12 years
- The impact of KU and whether the subscription model is the future for ebooks and audiobooks
- What it’s like to interview Jeff Bezos and his real passion for books
- A discussion on the US Senate hearings on big tech and anti-trust and possible ramifications for publishing [CNBC]
- Audiobooks and the future of reading and listening
You can find Len Edgerly at TheKindleChronicles.com and on Twitter @lenedgerly
Transcript of Interview with Len Edgerly
Joanna: Len Edgerly is a nonfiction author with degrees in business and poetry. He’s also the host of the long-running Kindle Chronicles Podcast, where he’s interviewed Jeff Bezos, Margaret Atwood, and Dean Koontz among many others. Welcome, Len.
Len: Hello, good to be here.
Joanna: Oh, it’s great to have you on the show.
First off, tell us a bit more about you and why you decided to start a podcast about Kindle back in 2008.
Len: I first heard what a podcast was about three years before that, 2005. I had retired at that point, so I had time to explore different things. I found a conference in Banff, Canada with a great title, Blogs and Dogs, and it was all about blogging and for your registration fee, you got to go on a dog sled ride. So that was enough to get me up to Banff.
At the opening reception, there were these guys quite a bit younger than I was holding handheld recorders and recording us at the reception. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘Well, we’re making a podcast.’ I said, ‘What is a podcast?’ And that’s where the hair on my head stood up when I realized that they were making these recordings and could very easily get them on the internet.
I made my first podcast that night from my room at the hotel, and I called it ‘Audio Pod Chronicles’ for some reason. I just was fascinated by it. So I spent about three years learning about microphones. I think it was probably using Audacity at that point. I was just talking to people, but mainly I was learning about podcasts.
So the Kindle showed up as the topic that I thought I could probably talk about once a week for a very long time because I had always been so interested in gadgets and also I’d been a journalist. I had been a business reporter at a newspaper in Rhode Island, and then I was editor of an energy magazine in Wyoming.
Before the Kindle, I fell in love with the Rocket Book and I made a fool of myself saying this is going to change everything, this Rocket Book here, and I hold it up at a meeting and I got a little burned by that because the Rocket Book didn’t change everything. But when the Kindle came along, it looked like it might.
So I just said, ‘I bet I can talk about this Kindle thing from the point of view of readers and maybe writers and technology.’ I wasn’t so much into Amazon at that time and that emerged over time. But by 2008 July here at this same cottage that I’m talking to you from the coast of Maine at this desk is where I did the first episode, I just thought, I think I can really love talking about this, and 12 years later, that really turned out to be a good instinct. And I’m glad I started it and I’m glad I stuck with it.
Joanna: That’s so funny. I don’t even know what the Rocket Book is. Was that a similar e-reader or was it a mobile device or…?
Len: Well, it was very similar. It was very clunky and it had a hard to read screen and you had to plug it in to get content on it, but it had some of the basics. You could put 10 books on it. Imagine that, put 10 books on a device.
Joanna: Seems crazy now, doesn’t it? You picked the right one in the end. Looking back, Len, it’s been over 12 years, I guess now.
What are the most significant changes you’ve seen in terms of the Kindle environment and also the publishing industry over that time?
Len: When I look back, I think that the introduction of the iPad in 2010 and the legal action that that prompted against Apple and I think the big six publishers at that time, that was big because it really set the environment for pricing e-books by the traditional publishers at a much higher level than Amazon had intended when they said that bestsellers were going to be priced at $9.99.
In the aftermath, even though Apple and the publishers lost the legal battle, they were able to arrange contracts with Amazon that were based on agency pricing. And they’ve been setting the prices for e-books, in my opinion, at an unreasonably high level ever since. As somebody who loves reading books by all publishers that still irritates me. But, I swallow hard and pay $15, $16 for a book that I really want to read.
I think the opportunity there was by pricing artificially high, it left a lot of room for self-publishing to emerge just by pricing reasonably. And it also gave quite a runway for Amazon Publishing to take off because they’ve been gathering increasingly prominent writers, including Dean Koontz, and pricing their books at what I consider to be reasonable prices.
I don’t know if I’m at this another 12 years, is Amazon Publishing going to be one of the big four? I think the growth of Amazon Publishing has been pretty phenomenal.
Joanna: I’m interested that you mentioned pricing. One of the big things that’s changed obviously is the subscription model with Kindle Unlimited.
What impact do you think KU has had and is subscription on digital devices the way it’s going to go?
Len: I agree with you. I’ve heard you say that that seems to be the way forward, and I would agree with it. I think that the barrier to it at this point is that the big publishers are not participating in Kindle Unlimited. So if you sign up for that, you get increasingly good choices, but it isn’t really a test of what it would look like if we could just sign on somewhere, maybe for quite a bit more than $10 a month and have that kind of access to everything.
I sort of like it. I buy a lot of books, just title by title. I’m agnostic on it as one reader, but I do see the trends. With Audible’s subscription and there are more and more things that I pay on a regular basis to have access to. And there’s some convenience there, and there’s probably help for business models for people that are providing the content. So yeah, I think that’s probably the way forward.
Joanna: And then on the device itself, and you said you were a gadget guy, I had one of the early international Kindles, this sort of white thing with the buttons on it. It wasn’t touch screen back then, right? There were buttons, you had to kind of type on it.
Now the devices are obviously quite different. I have a Paperwhite now. But some people say that people are using, like you mentioned, the iPad or the iReader on my phone on the Kindle app. And of course, then we’ve also got the Nook, we’ve got Kobo devices.
What are your thoughts on the device versus people using other devices to read?
Len: I’ve been surprised at how much Amazon continues to invest in the Kindle platform, the eInk readers, because I’m sure that you and I are similar that I read a lot on my iPad, my phone, I have a Fire tablet. I read much less on my Oasis than I did 10 years ago.
So I think if this was just another device that Amazon…you wouldn’t be seeing new versions of it come out on a regular basis, and you wouldn’t see the kinds of improvements to the interface that you see on like Page Flip and different things. They just keep working on it.
I get the feeling there’s a really big Kindle team at Amazon that acts like this is a new product and they just want to keep making it better. I think that the reason that’s the case, it relates to the two conversations I had with Jeff Bezos eight and four years ago. He is really a book guy. When I was talking to him about different aspects of the Kindle and why is it important to have people reading, long-form reading, he was totally into it.
I think that as long as he’s the CEO of the company, and at this point, he’s embedded teams of people there who are just very missionary in their approach toward let’s have a device that’s great at long-form reading, mainly books, but other long-form reading that you can’t check your tweets on you can’t stray off that when you curl up with it. It’s more like a physical book than it is an iPad because it’s a confined garden that’s suitable for just reading the words. So and there are things that could be improved.
Jeff was talking about the pain points that continue to exist in the device. And one of them being the ability to annotate with something like a stylus. I asked him when you have these six-page memos at your meetings, are you reading them…As the whole group is reading the memo on some new initiative that they’re analyzing, how are you taking notes on it?
He says, ‘I take notes on it on paper, just because it seems more natural to me to write on paper.’ But I think that’s something that in the future, something like the reMarkable tablet, I find really a nice way to annotate a PDF with the stylus. It feels like paper, it doesn’t have that glassy feel of an iPad. I would expect there to be continuing evolutionary improvements in the Kindle, but a real commitment to having a device that really doesn’t do anything else except long-form reading.
Joanna: I must say I only ever use my Paperwhite in bed and I turn the screen resolution right down. And I read on that every night. I turn the light right down on it so it’s dark. And I know you can do that on your phone and your other devices, but I do other things on my other devices.
As you say, I like having the only choice is to read a book, that is what I’m doing. And I just cannot do anything else with that device. So I agree with you, I don’t think it’s going away, but then I feel like we are super big readers. And so we have different devices for different times. You know what I mean?
Joanna: You mentioned Jeff Bezos and you’ve interviewed him a couple of times, which is pretty amazing because the man is not that available. You mentioned there that he is a reader.
What else struck you particularly about him? Does the media over-hype him? What’s interesting about him?
Len: In a personal experience level of him, I’ve interviewed a lot of people and I had the feeling that he was so intelligent that he was almost one nanosecond ahead of my thinking because he would have an answer immediately, and a well-formed answer. So there was this badminton feel of back and forth over a net of total engagement.
He showed up in this conference room on time and as if there wasn’t anything else during his day more important than talking to this guy that’s doing a podcast about the Kindle every week.
So a presence and an intelligence and I don’t want to get too gushy about it, but an empathy that I could see related to his love of books. At one point he was talking about a book that he’s talked about often, it’s The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro.
That’s the book that he read that prompted him to leave a Wall Street job and found Amazon because…I haven’t read the book, but I was reading the blurb of it. It’s about a butler who thinks back on his life and says, ‘Gee, did I really waste 30 years working for the old man?’
He said the book gave him a chance to experience extreme regret in a way that he said, ‘I hope I never experience in my own life.’ And so when he thought about the possibility of forming a company on the internet, which he really understood at that point, versus continuing to be a very wealthy, successful person on Wall Street, he said, ‘When I’m 80, I know I’m going to regret it if I didn’t at least give that a shot.’
I think for authors or people who listen to your show and mine, someone who is informed in the way they make decisions in life by the books they’ve read and the ideas that they get from reading, that I think is an aspect of him which maybe doesn’t break through so much on the coverage of his new girlfriend and all of the other things that he’s involved in.
But, one-on-one, in-person, I found him a very humble, attentive, interesting person, obviously very bright, but it wasn’t a weapon. It was just sort of an aspect of his presence that I found very enjoyable.
Joanna: It’s fascinating, isn’t it? I’m not exclusive to Amazon with my books, I believe in competition. And so let’s talk about that because you and I are both shareholders in Amazon, so we believe in Jeff and the company enough to put our money there as well as being authors and we’re podcasters.
We have this mutual interest in the wider company. I use Amazon S3 to have some of my file hosting and things like that. But what we’ve seen, as you and I record this last week, was the hearing, the antitrust hearing with the U.S. Congress that involved Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook.
And I feel like before the pandemic, there was this big tech backlash brewing on both sides of the political sphere in the U.S. It really was both sides. What are your thoughts on what might happen? Some people have said Amazon should be broken up. The S3 business, for example, should be spun out. And certainly, some of the stuff around the third parties on the store and things like that for Amazon.
What do you think might happen? And will it all just fade away because we need these companies?
Len: That’s a good question. I think that the antitrust side is fascinating and important, and it’s going to be very difficult to change the current rules of the road for antitrust.
From the people I’ve spoken with, if there’s no change in the actual laws, it’s going to be very difficult to successfully prosecute Amazon because the existing antitrust rules from the ’30s, or whenever, all have to do with market power being used to raise prices to make decisions that hurt customers. Now, unless Amazon does a 180-degree turn, it’s customer-focused.
It’s always about low prices and all of the things that they’ve done that have resulted in an 80% approval by customers at the top of every survey of brand loyalty. I totally understand why the question is being brought up though because these companies are huge and they have an incredible impact on society.
I noticed that a lot of the current thinking about antitrust and Amazon came from a ‘Yale Law Review’ article about three years ago, I think, maybe five years ago. Lina Khan, I think is the name of the author. And she’s now on the staff of that antitrust subcommittee. She was standing behind the chair of the committee as this was unfolding.
I read that article and it was impenetrable. It was academic, it was very smart, but I got a feeling of how difficult it will be to actually design an antitrust framework that fits these kinds of companies, and how all the pieces work together, and are you really going to help society versus customers based on this theory? I guess I would expect that it’s probably not going to happen. You’re not going to see an antitrust breakup like was attempted with Microsoft, but that there will be pressure against Amazon.
That hearing certainly sent Jeff Bezos a message. I bet he had some on unpleasant conversations with some of the people on that third-party marketplace, what’s going on here. And then the big counterweight against these companies are sort of each other. Amazon competes with Google and Microsoft and the cloud. Walmart’s twice the size in retail, and they’re doing all the things online that Amazon does.
So I would hope that a company like Amazon doesn’t just think they can blow off the moral concerns that are driving some of the support for these moves and that the government would make stupid crude decisions in redesigning the antitrust framework.
And that even though there are just a few competitors, if they’re good enough, they’re going to keep each other honest within a constrained world that it’s probable that Amazon continues in something like its current form I would say at least for the next 10 years and maybe longer.
Joanna: Jeff himself said…I think it was the Charlie Rose interview in 2013 or something. He said ‘Amazon will be disrupted.’
Len: That’s right.
Joanna: He also noted that most companies do not last forever at the top. And I think he said something like, basically he hopes it won’t be in his lifetime, but even himself, he’s taking money out of Amazon in order to build his space company.
And that seems to be one of his drivers…obviously, it’s not the money at this point. He has a bigger vision. So it’s interesting to me because it seems like his focus is on the future. And whatever it takes in order to achieve the ‘Star Trek’ goal. So as long as there’s money coming in to support this future goal, I don’t know, it feels like to me that that’s the focus. I mean, these are all our personal opinions on looking at the media.
What do you think?
Len: I think there’s plenty of evidence that. I think I saw one quote of his a while back that he sees amazon.com as the lottery winning that is enabling him to pursue his vision of life in space and creating an infrastructure so that a kid in a college dorm room can come up with a fantastic idea for colonizing space the way he was able to come up with a fantastic idea for the internet because credit cards have been created and the whole internet structure was there for him to use.
So I think that’s a fair analysis. It leaves an interesting question. There’s a lot of talk about this fellow Jeff Wilkie, who appears to fill in as an understudy for Jeff. At some point, I could easily imagine that Jeff turns the reins over to someone like Jeff Wilkie so that he can really work on Blue Origin. And once in a while, he has to turn his attention to the ‘Washington Post.’
Although, he’s clearly not involved in any of the editorial decisions, which you can tell by how they cover Amazon. I think that the toughest stories that I see anywhere from the ‘Washington Post’ reporters making it clear that…
Joanna: They’re not ruled by him.
Len: There’s not a lot of fear evident in how they cover Amazon.
Joanna: I hadn’t heard about that other Jeff, but it’s interesting because many people, certainly the authors like me and people listening who publish on Amazon KDP, for example, we feel like the individuals who…and we are customers of Amazon because we all buy books, but we’re also customers in that we pay for advertising, for example.
The way that I feel, many of us feel, we’re treated more like a rounding error because even though Amazon started with books, that’s not where the lion’s share of the money is. In fact, it really is a tiny, tiny piece.
So I guess the concern there would be that if you were going to look at the company and you were going to break it up into other pieces, then S3 obviously is the thing that makes the money, right? Not just S3. I mean, AWS, Amazon Web Services is the money.
And then there’s the store. And is it Elizabeth Warren who said, ‘If you own the store, you shouldn’t be able to play in the store?’ And you mentioned Amazon publishing, Amazon publishing clearly play in the store that Amazon also owns. And they also use the advertising services. They also presumably have access to data.
If things were to be broken up I would see that books would not be safe as such.
Len: Not be safe in what way?
Joanna: Well, for example, if let’s say Elizabeth Warren’s…I don’t know what her potential is in the future of politics, but it seems there are other people who feel that same way. But if you were to say, ‘Well, if you own the store, you can’t play in the store,’ then does that mean Amazon Publishing would have to be sold to another publishing house or does that mean authors who publish in KDP would now have to be part of some other entity?
And again, people listening, these are just ideas. We’re just talking about ideas. But what do you think about that? It does seem that sometimes they have the advantage.
Len: I’ve never heard anybody suggest that Amazon Publishing gets any kind of an advantaged break at amazon.com. And one thing I’ve noticed is that the Amazon book editors that put out the best 20 books of the year, there’s absolutely no favoritism for Amazon Publishing evident there.
I think it’d be really stupid if they were making that mistake. And if Amazon Publishing by innovating and… I think one great thing about Amazon Publishing is the amount of translation it’s doing. At this point, it brings more mainstream novels from around the world into English than probably the rest of the big publishers combined. And they’re redoing the relationships with authors.
Dean Koontz talks about having been published traditionally for so long. He said, ‘All of these people are so young and they’re so excited, and I just feel like I have a new lease on life by working for this publisher.’
So I think that probably if it got broken up, it would exist on its own. I think if it became part of Random House, I would just be completely devastated, I think. Well, that’s not the end of the story I was hoping for because I think that it’s good to have competition to the traditional big publishers just like it’s good to have competition against Amazon.
At this point, Amazon Publishing is like a scrappy startup that’s coming in and innovating and doing things, which I think have some merit. I’m digging myself a deeper, deeper hole here because you know more about what it’s like, the exclusivity of KDP Select. I can imagine that’s really a problem.
As a reader and as somebody who talks about Amazon from the point of view mainly of readers, I don’t see problems that I bet you see more accurately than I do. And that’s why I need to keep listening to you.
Joanna: As you say, Amazon is all about the customer experience. And as a reader, they got me early. I’m not so much a gadget person, but I’m definitely a reader. And while I was living in Australia back in 2008, 2009, and the only option were incredibly expensive print books, like print books are so expensive in Australia. I was desperate for an e-reader.
The Sony reader was the only option and then I couldn’t get one. And then the Kindle hit and I was on the waiting list. Scott was one of the first people to get one in Australia and I was sold. So they got me on day one. And of course the more you buy books on the Kindle, it’s very hard to change devices later on in your life because your whole life there, and they know me so well.
I’m a very happy customer of Amazon in so many ways, and yet it’s good and healthy to have other people in the ecosystem. So I appreciate your point of view.
Let’s think more about the future then, because another big change that has happened in the last 12 years is the rise of audiobooks. And of course, Audible really, I think, have been responsible like they were with Kindle.
Audible brought audiobooks to everyone’s phones and now a lot more companies are coming into the space, but in some markets now audiobooks are selling more than e-books.
What do you think about audiobooks and what are your thoughts on the future of reading?
Len: I don’t have time to listen to audiobooks as much as I used to, and I don’t have a commute and I haven’t driven the car more than 100 miles in the last month or so. But it’s powerful and I think that it’s satisfying to some extent because I think as you pointed out when we talked last that the literature has its roots in oral traditions, and so to have wonderful writing and storytelling move to that platform, partly out of the convenience of what it’s like to be leading modern lives, that just seems like a wonderful coming full circle.
The part that intrigues me as well are things that are audio first that you’re getting. I heard a wonderful thing on Audible that was James Taylor, a singer I really love over here in the States. And it was an autobiography, but he was playing some music and it was taking advantage of all the different ways to tell his story in a way that it just wouldn’t have been anywhere as rich on the page.
And even the audible version of a written book that they had created this thing to take advantage of what you could do to tell the story of a musician’s life. I think it’s hard for me to see the future of Alexa as part of this. You’ve got interaction possibilities, you’ve got chain link stories and that’s going to be another place where the power of telling stories in audio is going to unfold, I think.
Joanna: Absolutely. And we’ll just call her the device. The device, I think is more that it’s going to be embedded in a lot of things. So embedded in your car.
The one you have there in the room is a smart speaker, but I see the future for these kinds of AI assistants. They’re just in the things, they’re in your phone and I wear the watch and I have the Siri, the different devices that we talked to you to actually get the things we want to listen to.
I had laser eye surgery last year, and when I was in bed with my eyes closed, I can just ask the device to play an audiobook, for example.
I see those as more almost stitching together the digital experience between the domains that we move in that way rather than in that assistant model.
Len: Yes. They’re pulling pieces together that are there. They’re just not connected. When we think of friction, that’s a term that Bezos uses a lot, how do you reduce the friction in reading? I think that that’s going to be solved, that we’re going to be able to almost think of a book.
What’s the name of that book I read in high school, and the next thing you know it’s on my Kindle and on my Alexa as opposed to the effort to find things that sometimes are hard to find.
Joanna: Absolutely. And I think as the system knows more about us that is one of the wonderful things about the recommendation engine that I appreciate, it’s being able to know what I’m interested in. It’s ridiculous how much money I spend on buying, but it’s because they’re just like, ‘Oh, you might like this.’ ‘Oh yes, I would. Thank you very much.’
Len: How did you know that?
Joanna: ‘Yes, I’ll have that too. Thank you.’
I wanted to pivot into podcasting. Things have changed a lot again since you and I started our podcasts. And I feel like even in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen Spotify have got Michelle Obama and they spent $100 million on Joe Rogan. Wasn’t it even ‘The New York Times’ has just bought a podcast studio? We’ve got publishers now starting podcast studios.
Do you think suddenly the era of podcasting has happened and what are your thoughts on what’s happening in podcasting?
Len: Well, it does seem though that those are significant things that have happened and a few years ago was the ‘Serial’ podcast, which I think introduced the power of a podcast to a lot of people. I guess my only caution is I can remember going to conferences 10 years ago where people were saying podcasting is just about to be the era that’s going to be the same as radio.
There’s been this kind of ever-receding bonanza to predictions of it. But meanwhile, more and more people are listening to podcasts and I’m sure the facts would show that it’s creeping into everyone’s consciousness.
I think it’s another place where that friction concept applies because in the car, I can listen to my podcast or I was listening to your podcast driving around this week, but it’s not so easy. I should be looking at the road and not tapping on the screen of the Tesla to try to figure out how to find the podcast I’m looking for.
So ease of access to the shows. And there’ll certainly be improvements in that’ll make it more ubiquitous. I think the other thing which intrigues me is the ease of making a podcast is it creates so many opportunities. I was experimenting with a platform called Anchor. I think it might be owned by Spotify.
Joanna: It is, yes. They bought it.
Len: Well, it’s just drop-dead easy. I set it up on my iPhone and I was doing some work for a candidate here, Mayor Pete, that was in the primaries. And I went to an event in New Hampshire and I was recording what he was saying, and I did some kind of comments on it.
In my car, I assembled an episode of this podcast they called ‘EdgeCast,’ included a picture that I’d taken of him, and before I left the event to head back to the cottage in Maine, the episode was on the air. And I just thought, this is amazing.
Maybe my grandson who’s 14 years old is going to be having podcasts, that sort of personalization of the creation of the audio, great opportunities for commercially-scaled podcasts that we’re seeing. But I wonder if there’s this whole other layer of personal podcasts that you share with 10 friends, or you have some way to communicate with each other as the friction on the creation side gets less and less.
Joanna: That’s really interesting. I used to listen to Apple podcasts and I moved my listening over to Spotify because I just find, again, their recommendation algorithm and their search is just incredible. And that, to me, has been the issue with podcasts.
You have to hear about them by word of mouth, whereas Spotify are going to recommend different shows. If I’m interested in a particular topic, I can use the search bar, and Apple has improved that a bit, but I think they gave up the ball as such and Spotify are just running with the ball now and making big plays.
So it’s really interesting that you say that about Anchor because, of course, Spotify own it. And when you create on Anchor, I think you have to allow monetization of it or something. It is owned by Spotify, right. It’s not an independent network.
Len: Right. Yes. I don’t have any ads coming on my version of it. So I think there’s a way to do it just putting it up for free and having it available.
Joanna: I think it’s a really interesting idea. My thought with Spotify is that perhaps that they will get into audiobooks in the next couple of years because all the statistics show that if you listen to audiobooks you probably definitely listen to podcasts. And if you listen to podcasts, then you are on your way to audiobooks.
Len: Right. Makes sense.
Joanna: Coming back to you before we finish up.
You’ve been podcasting so long, why are you still doing it? Why do you still love it? And are you going to keep going?
Len: The ‘Kindle Chronicles’ had a near-death experience just a couple of weeks ago. I was approaching the 12th anniversary of the first show. And then I’m going to be 70 this month and I thought, well, that’s enough. I’ve had a good run. And I actually was starting telling people that, you know, ‘I think I’m going to just stop doing this.’
My wife, Darlene, said, ‘Well, that’s the stupidest thing you’ve said recently. Why would you give up something that is such a joy to you?’ And my father, who’s 93, had a similar but gentler reaction to it. So I pulled back from the brink.
Part of it was, I was hoping I was going to get a chance to talk to Jeff Bezos again because I thought, well, we’re on a four-year cycle. Every time I have an anniversary, I’m going to talk to Jeff. And I had submitted my request and he had a pretty busy week testifying in front of Congress and everything. So it’s not surprising he didn’t have time for my little podcast.
It left me wanting to proceed maybe under a freer sense of not quite so Amazon-focused or centric and I might talk a little bit more about my politics on the show. It’s something I’ve always resisted because I have some very loyal listeners who are very conservative.
But having almost given up the show, I feel like I have a lot of freedom with what I do with it. And I can imagine I’ll keep doing it until the next…anniversaries are tough. I think every time I come up with, you know, the 700th show or 20 years, there’s going to be a moment of saying that may be enough. So I just have to grit my teeth and get through them. And I hope I’m still doing this when I’m in my 90s.
Joanna: It’s funny, just this week was my 500th anniversary.
Len: I saw that. Congratulations.
Joanna: Thank you. And obviously, I’m behind you because I didn’t go weekly at the beginning. I moved to weekly a few years in, so I’m definitely behind you, but a similar amount of time elapsed. But it’s funny, it’s kind of the same thing. 500, that’s a really good number.
Have I said everything I want to say? And then you think, well, I could go to 600. I like committing and 600 is about 2 years, right? 100 episodes is about 2 years and you think, I have more to talk about here. So I’m glad that you’re feeling the same way.
And also that your family encouraged you because I feel like some people just see it as a waste of time in inverted commas.
There’s a lot to be gained, isn’t there, from these conversations?
Len: Oh, absolutely. That, to me, is the most exciting thing. I prepare a lot for an interview and so that’s pleasurable to just immerse myself in someone’s work. And then the excitement it’s like, the curtain goes up and the mic goes on and I’m talking to somebody from anywhere in the world. That never gets old.
Joanna: Oh, fantastic. Where can people find you and your podcast online?
Len: It’s pretty simple. Just thekindlechronicles.com and I’m on all the podcast sites. I’ve got an archive of writing I’ve done on the internet that goes back quite a ways at lenedgerly.com. So those are the main places.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Len. That was great.
Len: Oh, I really enjoyed it. Thank you, Joanna.
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Author: Joanna Penn