April Fool’s Day and the Kindle

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I thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke. But instead I got caught disbelieving three strange stories that were actually true!. It just goes to show you how wonderfully unpredictible our world has become since the invention of the Kindle. The first unusual story even involved the President of the United States.

A friend sent me a link to a video on YouTube, saying that if I clicked on it, I’d hear the president of the United States reading a book called Chicka-chicka boom boom. This seemed really unlikely, especially since it was April Fool’s Day, but when I clicked on the link, there he was. Barack Obama was reading the children’s picture book to entertain kids who’d come to the White House yesterday for the traditional Easter Egg Roll. The president even described it as one of his favorite books!

“A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree,” the story begins. (“Clearly the alphabet is full of a bunch of trouble-makers,” the president ad libs later, as the rest of the letters crowd into the tree, eventually causing them all to come toppling down.) “Skit skat scootle doot, flip flop flee,” the story continues. But of course, the real message of the day was that it’s important for children to read. “If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you,” the president tells the children. “So I want everybody to read hard, okay? Read as many books as you can…”
And sure enough, it turns out that book is available as a Kindle ebook.

Story #2 also seemed unlikely. Last week someone claimed that Amazon had thrown around its huge budget, and purchased a book-recommendation web site called GoodReads.com. I’ve used the site — it lets you tell your friends what books you’re reading, and you also suggest books or start discussions about them. Author John Locke even identified it as one of the sites where he promoted his thriller novels — and Locke ultimately became the first self-published author to sell a million books in the Kindle store. (At the time, he was only the 8th author ever to sell one million Kindle ebooks).

I was skeptical that Amazon even knew the site existed — but again, it turns out that I was fooling myself by not believing it. In fact, Amazon had even put out a press release announcing the news just four days before. “Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading…” Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content said in the announcement. “Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

I was also dubious of one more story that later turned out to be true — and surprisingly, it came from a site that was actually called Fool.com. I knew that Amazon was rumored to be working on a combination Kindle/smartphone, but it was their headline that really threw me, warning that Amazon might be working on a “Kindle Phablet.” If this were a movie, I would’ve spit coffee all over my screen, blurting out that “Phablet” was the most ridiculous name ever for a new line of products. I know tablets are popular, so every company wants to invent the next generation of tablets, but surely no one would ever merge the words Phone and Tablet, just to imply that a new class of device was absolutely fab-ulous. But it turns out people have been using that term since at least 2012, according to Wikipedia, which even has a whole section with links where technology columnists debate the appropriateness of the word.

Fortunately, I didn’t get them all wrong. When I visited Google today, I noticed they had links not only to Google News, but also to Google NOSE!. (“Google Nose BETA leverages new and existing technologies to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available…”) But don’t worry. My friends assure me that if you fall for an April Fool’s story that turns out to be true, it means that spring will come six weeks earlier this year. Or something like that.

Happy April Fool’s Day, everybody!

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