Mar 13, 2011

Guy Montag says "Burn Your Books and Buy a Kindle!"

This is a Kindle.
All I did was walk into Fred Meyer to buy..something. I don't really remember what I was going to buy, but whatever it was I am sure it was important. Anyway, I was just walking through the electronics department (I only go there for the articles, honest) and noticed something was...different. Though no one else seemed to hear it, I caught the distinct smell of something shiny out of the corner of my eye. Upon further investigation I found it was an one of those Amazonian "Ken Dolls" I had heard so much about. It's appearance confused me.

I had, strictly for research purposes, played with studied a few dolls when I was a kid. The Ken dolls I remembered looked a lot different. For one, almost all of them had at least one limb. Sure there were a few torso-only Kens out there but they were usually found at the bottom of the toy box and rarely played with. Unless you were some kind of freak. Like Billy Dixon. That poor kid never had a chance. I think they pulled eight or nine doll torsos out of him after he died. Where was I? Oh the typical Ken doll also had no visible genitals and never spoke. Ah, that reminds me of poor Billy Dixon...

This is not.
Anyway, the tragedy of Billy not withstanding, you can understand my surprise at seeing this latest version. It was also 'junkless', mute, but it had no limbs at all. I was like a flat, grey torso with buttons. Now, I'm no rocket surgeon, but I was pretty sure this was not what Amazonian men looked like. Seriously, how would they even procreate? My surprise turned into annoyance at this clearly racist depiction and then it became outright anger when I noticed the price. They were charging $189 for this?! That's just wrong, I thought. I stormed out and immediately wrote a letter to the President of Barbie to complain.

A few weeks later I received a response. I won't get into the detail of the letter here here, but I will relate one particular statement: "Be advised that threatening or harassing letters are a violation of Federal Law and....blah, blah, blah". Sure Barbie, if that is your real name, just ignore me. See if I ever buy another one of your so-called "Dream Houses". They aren't even very cool anyways. After I related this account to a friend I was told these were not some obscene distortion of a classic American toy, but rather an electronic e-book reader. And they were not Ken dolls from the Amazon at all. They were actually "Kindles" from a company called "Amazon". And you know what else? They are based in California. Great. Now I look like a total idiot. Thanks a lot everybody on Earth for not telling me what the flip these things were. Mostly I blame Amazon for naming themselves after a river in South America. Like I'm supposed to know that.

Now that I had the facts I went back to Freddies and took a fresh look at this Kindle thing. I though that "Kindle" was a pretty dumb name for something designed to replace books. Have you ever read the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? It's pretty good. The name is it reference to the temperature where paper will generally ignite. Of all the books we had to read in high school, it was the only book I really liked. It told the story of a dystopian future where reading books, or even owning them, was illegal. Any books found were immediately burned. Pretty dark right? Kind of like real life when the Nazis burned books that were "Un-German"? Well, you know what the verb "Kindle" means?: "To catch fire; burst into flame." So...yeah. I wonder if the marketing department ever even thought about that...

"Hey Bob, you know the new e-book reader R & D is working on? I was watching this History Channel thing last night and it gave me an idea for a cool name. Apparently there were these guys like a million years or whatever that totally loved books. Like they would pile them in the street and shout stuff in some weird language. I don't really remember because I was like wicked high. But there was this one thing that was totally awesome. They would like burn the books. I know, right? Yeah, seller. I GOT IT! How about the "Amazon Hottie"? Yeah you're right, that kinda sucks. Okay smart guy, you think of a name...".  

Regardless of the sadly ironic name, I bought one just to see what all the fuss was about.

The text is amazingly clear. Click for a hi-res image.
These Kindle things are pretty cool. But course, you already know that because you probably have one. Seems like everybody has one. And I must say, I can see why. Besides being small and light, the screen is very easy on the eyes. I charged it when I took it out of the box (nearly two weeks ago), and it's still running on the same charge. Impressive. It can also display non-Latin characters without a problem (something that even most PC's have a problem doing without special configuration). I downloaded a couple of Arabic-language books and all the script looked perfect. I also uploaded a few PDF's using Amazons "Whispernet" service and they came through in just a few seconds. Using the service cost me about $0.15, but I can always use a USB cable to copy files manually and avoid even that small charge.

That takes me to the other thing I really love about the Kindle. There are no recurring fees. Like none. Even the 3G that uses a cellar signal cost exactly zero dollars a month to use. For me, buying hardware outright and avoiding any kind of recurring fee is preferable. TiVo also offers a 'lifetime' account. But it costs $300 (in addition to the cost of the TiVo itself) and is a bit pricey for me. The Kindle 3G is only $189 and that's it. After you buy the device you're good to go. Of course, any books you want to buy will cost you more. But even avoiding that it not impossible. For there are hundreds of free books and games available (did I mention it can play games too?).

So now I am addicted to the Kindle. Thanks a lot Fred Meyer, you cost me $189 bucks. You will be hearing from my attorney. Maybe you've heard him? Imaginary McFictional, Attorney-at-Law.


Anonymous said...

You are tooooo funny Mike, I love reading this stuff from you!!!

Jonah said...

I'm glad you are enjoying it. Otherwise you'd be all like "Oh yeah, Jonah, the Kindle is JUST GREAT."

And I'd be all like, "I like it."

To which you would retort, "because you are dumb. Dumb like a Kindle."

Then I'd go cry in the corner.