A ‘search and replace’ by Barnes & Noble switched every mention of ‘kindle’ with the name of the company’s ereader, ‘Nook’.
By Hermione Hoby
From one small corner of the internet this week comes a tale of an ebook glitch so deliciously absurd I’ve had to keep reminding myself that it is, in fact, true.
A few days ago a blogger who identifies himself as just “Philip” took to his site to recount his experience of reading War and Peace – specifically, a 99¢ version as sold through Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. A contextually important reminder: the Nook is Barnes and Noble’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle and the two devices have invariably been pitted against each other in a kind of ereader war.
When, however, Philip came across the line, “It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern”, the Kindle/Nook rivalry wasn’t foremost in his mind. Instead, he thought he’d just stumbled on an unorthodox verb-translation or some other minor textual hiccup. It was only when that rogue “Nookd” struck again that he realised, via the text’s search function, that every instance of the word “kindle” or “kindle” had, in fact, been changed to “Nook” and “Nookd”.
Which means Tolstoy has been subjected to indignities – and absurdities – such as this: “When the flame of the sulphur splinters Nookd by the timber burned up, first blue and then red, Shcherbinin lit the tallow candle…”
Our blogger writes: “I was shocked. Almost immediately I found it hilarious … then outrageous … then both.”
Was this an instance of egregious, not-so-subliminal advertising on the part of the Nook’s marketing department? It really does seem like the sort of satirical, absurdist flourish that David Foster Wallace might have dreamed up: a kind of product-placement as anachronistic and sacrilegious as CGI-ing iPhones into the hands of Tarkovsky characters. But the truth is both more prosaic and more funny.
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