I did a literal double take while walking through the train station this morning. I carried on, then halfway up the stairs decided to go back and take another look. This is what I saw:
That’s right. Using a Kindle Paperwhite feels “like reading a book”.
So then, despite the device likely having more power than the operating systems that allowed NASA to send men to the moon, the Kindle Paperwhite’s main selling point is that it emulates the feeling of reading a book.
Can you even imagine the tedium of the poor programmers’ jobs, where they’re tasked with taking this great new technology and recreating something we’ve had for thousands of years. When I thought about this concept, it became even more bizarre. It’s like Jaguar creating a car that gives the sensation of walking.
When someone visits the cinema, they may choose to see a film in 3D because it FEELS like they’re going to another world. Or when a person visits Disney World it FEELS like a slice of good old fashioned Americana. These are things that aren’t really obtainable by any other means, so people are investing in something that allows them to experience an otherwise unavailable sensation. In the case of the Kindle ad, we’re being asked to invest in the premium product, the “upgrade”, in order to experience something very ordinary, affordable and available – the predecessor, the book.
Now I know that electronic book devices can be handy. I recognise their practicality, for reading on the move or space-saving. How about making the selling point “Kindle Paperwhite – you don’t have to lug books around anymore”.
Even more worryingly is the idea that Amazon are actually preparing us for some kind of dystopian future where books are no longer available. The groundwork is there already. By 2016 it’s predicted that at least 1000 of the UK’s libraries will no longer be around. Perhaps we’re being conditioned, slowly, before the printers shut down and the books are burned, and we are longing for the sensation of what it felt like to read a book…
Ultimately, for now at least, I want to tell the woman in the advert “Read a fucking book, then”.