I’ve been noticing a weird trend. eBooks in stores and advertisements are using Pride and Prejudice as their demo book. But why? Perhaps it’s because the text is in the public domain, and so it isn’t another cost for them. But there are a tonne of books freely available in the same way, so I think there must be another additional reason. Personally, I froth at the mouth whenever I even think about an eBook reader, so seeing Pride and Prejudice advertised with these darlings is an extra little kick of happiness.
That lovely piece of equipment is called a Kindle. See how becoming Pride and Prejudice is on an eReader?!
That is the Sony eBook reader. It’s a small picture, but you can just about see the Pride and Prejudice lines.
And this is Barnes & Nobles’ “Nook”. (Excuse the screwed up line spacing, I actually read somewhere that it changes dramatically in different advertisements, as when going through the ‘Promo’ stage they were fixing it!)
Even the Borders application (for iPhone and iPad) comes with 5 free classics, of which Pride and Prejudice is one.
So, again, why is this? I believe it has something to do with the “message” of the ereaders. Firstly, Pride and Prejudice is a popular book that is (almost) universally read by women. Women, apparently, are the largest market for bookstores- and thus for a new wave of eBook readers. Secondly, Pride and Prejudice is one of those “classic” old-school books and has a well recognised first line “It is a truth universally… et cetera”. This makes it an effective marketing tool and also shows the “new” era and the “old” eras coexisting, using one-another in harmony. Yep, I know this marketing spiel makes me want to vomit as well, but the truth is that a lot of people are worried that the eReaders will make hard copies of books obsolete. I doubt it, but there you go.
Pride and Prejudice, to me, is to be read in hard organic copy. I have read it on my iPhone, and while it was convenient and there whenever I wanted it, it didn’t feel the same as opening a book and feeling the pages. Books have history, and feeling, and emotions associated with them. When you see that navel orange stain on page 34, you remember sitting outside reading it next to the pool fence when your dog barked and you jumped, spilling orange everywhere. Or that small rip on page 57 from when your brother tried to wrestle it out of your hands so you could play Nazi Zombies with him on the PS3. And hey, look at that little note I’d jotted in the border before last book-meet, and how the picture on the cover now has orange hair from where I had coloured it in with texta during highschool. It’s these sorts of experiences that an electrical box (no matter how sleek and desirable) cannot replace.
So, are eBook readers being marketed correctly? Are they doing themselves a service or a disservice by using a book like Pride and Prejudice in their promotional shots? What do you think?