What’s this Kindle do? Must be short for kindling!
I’ve been thinking I may be in the market for one of those Kindle gadgets that let you read a book without risking paper cuts, ink fumes and other bookbinding dangers. I won’t boast, but 2010 may be the year I actually read a novel.
Problem is, I want to try it out first. Difficult, since they come from Amazon, which doesn’t exist in the real world.
So I was thrilled to see a press release last week headlined, “Staples Welcomes Amazon Kindle to Stores this Sunday.”
It boasted that Staples had “developed unique interactive displays that allow customers to experience and learn more about the all-new Kindle.”
On Sunday morning, I was there. I raced up to the display, grabbed the Kindle and began punching buttons. The image on the screen changed now and then, but after an hour or so I realized it was pre-programmed, and had nothing to do with buttons I was hitting. Nothing gets past me.
I asked a store clerk how to call up a real book, so I could experience turning pages, flipping ahead to the dirty parts and so on, and he said, “Sir, that’s just a display model. You can’t actually use it.”
Excuse me? I got my fat butt in here on a Sunday just to hold a non-working model that might just as well be a dog chew toy?
So the “interactive” display is essentially a traveling medicine show bottle of snake oil. You do get to hold it and watch a slideshow on the screen, instead of just seeing the Kindle next to some smelly flip-flops like in this publicity photo. Just don’t try to make it do anything.
Staples insists the display is interactive, “in the fact that it allows consumers to get a hands-on experience.”
I disagree, since interactivity is supposed to be a two-way street. Let’s imagine going into a BMW showroom, looking to buy a sweet silver convertible.
Yes, there it is! It’s gorgeous! You tackle a salesman. “Can I take this for a spin?”
“No sir, that’s just a display model. You can’t actually use it. But you may sit in it and enjoy a visual simulation of what it might seem like if you were lucky enough to find one that moves…
“Whoops, you just missed Mount Rushmore, sir! Here comes the Alamo! You’re missing the interactivity! America is whizzing by!”
So anyway, if you want real Kindle interactivity, first you need to interact with a credit card… Damn! I just missed the Washington Monument in my silver convertible! I wish it had reverse!
Top right: Staples display courtesy of Staples
Left: The Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi e-book reader is shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters on July 28, 2010. Amazon.com/Handout
Lower right: The Washington Monument is framed by cherry trees in bloom in Washington in April 2, 2010. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas