Sunday, September 11, 2011

Meet Kindle

This morning I met a boy named Kindle.

Not Kendall, but Kindle.

He was a very happy 2-year-old kid in the church nursery who was building and destroying towers of blocks just like any other boy, but he was named for a piece of technology.

I don't own a Kindle (yet), or any other e-reader. I've looked at them and the Nook and the Kobo, but haven't bought. Even when Borders had them on clearance during their liquidation, I didn't buy one. I don't have anything intrinsically against e-readers; I think they're a wonderful tool for economic transportation and storage of a large library. They've even become something of a status symbol, like a big expensive laptop was a number of years ago (I am currently typing on a laptop that cost around $300). I've seen people pull out their Nooks at church since they had easy access to four different translations and could pick deciding on their mood. I've seen somebody download his entire PhD book list to a Kindle rather than buy the recommended set of $1000 leather bound books.

In reality, I don't spend a lot of money on books. Sacrelige coming from someone with a Master's in English, but I also live in the real world. My monthly book budget is small (in part due to the Master's in English), and that usually gets spent on kids' books. I use the library quite frequently and enjoy being on a first-name basis with many librarians and regular patrons.

But back to the little boy.

My wife told me his name, "As in Amazon Kindle." That has got to be some great free marketing for Amazon. Now, for as long as that little boy lives, any time he introduces himself and somebody spells his name the other way, he gets to say, "No, like the Amazon Kindle." There will likely never be a Kobo or Nook in the church nursery; the brands (and probably the names as well) just don't have the staying power to be integrated that far into culture.

Forget e-readers for the moment. Very few brands at all ever make it into the culture of kids' names. A friend I grew up with named her kid Camaro, and plenty of others have gone with names like Stetson, Lexus, Porsche, and other expensive-sounding brands. These have all been cultural symbols. It doesn't mean that all cultural symbols will become names (I dare you to find an iPod in Kindergarten anytime soon), but this pretty much guarantees their stickiness outside of their general field. Here is a one of many other articles on this phenomenon.

And the new one to the club, Kindle.

Perhaps some day companies will no longer buy the naming rights to stadiums, but our children. Heck, for the right bid, I may just have another kid myself. Just as long as the company didn't want residuals every time he wrote his name.

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