But if Bezos applies the kind of innovations to The Post that have propelled Amazon under his stewardship, he could radically upend traditional assumptions about how the paper delivers its journalism, generates ad revenue and interacts with its readers.
Technology analysts said that the kind of predictive analytics perfected by Amazon could be used to provide Post subscribers with personalized news feeds based on where they live and what they have read before. People browsing The Post’s Web site or tablet app could be served ads tailored to their past purchases, and then could buy products with a single click, media industry experts said. Reader voices could be integrated into online storytelling, with the community voting on the most valuable comments.
“The biggest impact will be a lessening of the reliance on the old model,” said Brad Stone, author of “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” a book set to be released in October. “He fearlessly goes and disrupts his own businesses.”
Whether Bezos can effectively reboot the newspaper industry for the digital age — a goal that has eluded scores of media veterans and Wall Street investors — remains an open question.
Still, there is no question he comes to the task from a distinct point of view. At the heart of Bezos’s approach is an obsession with the customer’s experience – a philosophy that drove the company’s pioneering advances in targeting consumers and delivering goods.
“We intend to build the world’s most customer-centric company,” he wrote to shareholders in 1999, as the young company was just expanding beyond online book selling into music and videos.
“One thing Bezos has understood is the relationship with the customer is everything,” media analyst Ken Doctor said. “You satisfy that customer, then you sell them more stuff.”
Bezos could figure out how to “take the friction out of the buying process” at newspapers, as Doctor put it, changing how readers subscribe for news, what they receive and when.
But the new owner will have to exercise some caution in reinventing Post practices, Doctor said, adding: “Do any of these things tread on the public’s belief that the editors are simply trying to get them accurate, true stories? That’s the bedrock principle, and you don’t want to violate that principle.”
Bezos has said he will not run The Post’s day-to-day operations and has yet to indicate how he might remake the newspaper. “I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan,” he told The Post in an interview Monday. “This will be uncharted terrain, and it will require experimentation.”