The Onion mocks the Kindle

November 8, 2010

Last week The Onion made a funny, fake announcement about the president of Amazon. “‘The Kindle Is Easier To Read In Bright Sunlight,’ Amazon CEO Shouts At Customers In Apple Store.” It’s a nod to Amazon’s war with the iPad, but the fake headline got a real rise from Twitter’s assortment of geeks, Apple fans, and Kindle lovers. The headline appeared on The Onion’s Twitter feed, which has over 2.4 million followers — and by Monday, over 100 people had “re-tweeted” the message to their own followers on Twitter.

But I discovered it wasn’t the first time the humor site had joked about the Kindle. When Amazon released the Kindle 2, The Onion was there with a quick list of its new features.

– A lot fewer dangling wires
– …is not just a hollow box with a clear plastic window that you insert books into…”

And in January, at the Consumer Electronics Show, they’d also joked that for nostalgic users, the Kindle now “signals a logging crew to cut down 10 trees for every book purchased with the device.”

Bit it’s hard to tell whether they’re making fun of Amazon’s digital reader, or if they’re secretly fans of the Kindle. For example, in July their “American Voices” segment showed the heads of three people, responding to the news that ebook sales were [almost] surpassing sales of printed books. One of them announced that he wasn’t surprised by the popularity of ebooks, because “…if you’re reading a hardcover book, strangers try to start conversations with you. If you’re reading off a Kindle, people just stare at your awesome Kindle.” And the same fake people were also there in March, ready to react to the news that Amazon had temporarily pulled all the books from Macmillan publishing house.

“Publishing house? I thought Stephen Coonts just typed all the books right into Amazon!”

In May, they even offered opinions about Amazon’s foray into the market for college textbooks. “It does make sense for students to keep all the books they’re not going to read in one device, rather than lugging a big heavy bag around.”

But interestingly, you can now buy entire ebooks with humor from The Onion. For $9.99, you can buy Homeland Insecurity: The Onion Complete News Archives, Volume 17. (“This collection features the entire archive from November 2004 to December 2005…”) In print it came out to a whopping 320 pages, but the ebook edition was just released in May — and judging by one review, now its fake news headlines are even more timely. (“Cost of Living Now Outweighs Benefits… Bankrupt U.S. Sold to China.”)

And just last month The Onion released an ebook by their columnist, Jean Teasdale. It’s called A Book of Jean’s Own!: All New Wit, Wisdom, and Wackiness from The Onion’s Beloved Humor Columnist, and it’s a tongue-in-cheek newspaper column that’s apparently written by a cheerful yet secretly unhappy housewife.

I’ve been enjoying The Onion’s skewed take on the news for over 15 years, but I have to admit that they finally got me. Reading through their fake news stories, I discovered their announcement of a new “U2 Edition” of the Kindle, which ships pre-loaded with all of the favorite books by the rock band U2. For half a second, I wondered if Amazon really had released a special Kindle edition, and I actually spent a few minutes frantically searching for it in Amazon’s Kindle store.

Zing!


And remember, you can also subscribe to The Onion on the Kindle for just $1.99.

LOLcats on the Kindle
Here’s something I never thought I’d see on the Kindle. The Lolcats!

Wait, wait, it gets better. You’ve probably already seen their crazy misspelled thoughts, spread across cat pictures capturing funny scenes and expressions. (The most famous one was a bright-eyed grey cat, smiling expectantly as he asks: “I can has cheezburger?”)* But in February of 2010, one webmaster took it to extremes, using the re-captioned cat pictures for a translation of a very unexpected book: the Bible.

“In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez an da Erfs n stuffs….”

The book’s description on Amazon explains that “from the biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew to Latin and the King’s English, the Bible has been translated into over 2000 languages. ADD ONE MORE…” Yes, the whole bible has been re-written in cat-speak, so its first book isn’t called Genesis, it’s called “Ceiling Cat Maek Awl teh Stuffz.” And Amazon’s description of the book gives you a sample of the other inspirational wisdom that waits inside…


    GIV US DIS DAY OUR DALEE CHEEZBURGER.

    AND FURGIV US FOR MAKIN YU A COOKIE, BUT EATEDING IT.

    AND WE FURGIV WEN CATS STEEL OUR COOKIEZ.

In a comment on the ebook’s Amazon page, its author explains that thousands of people helped with the translation project as a collective effort. Martin Grodin saw himself as more of an editor for the project, and the painstaking editing for each misspelled cat-translation of the Bible stories “made me realize that it is, in fact, hilarious.” At times it’s like reading an insane version of Finnegan’s Wake, since you’re decoding the misspelled cat words using half-remembered biblical stories. And there’s more text than pictures — though sometimes its broken up by a long line of kitten paw prints.

There are pictures in the book, though I had to read all the way to Genesis 2:19 until I found the second one — a picture of two cats resting to indicate Eve’s arrival in the Garden of Eden. (“Oh hai! yu can has frend. She liek yu but missin sometings.”) The text is also available on a web site, but I thought they also did a nice job of formatting it for the Kindle. There’s 176 pages of craziness, and though the book costs $9.32, there’s still fun to be had even if you only order the book’s free sample.

Because even the book’s table of contents is still pretty funny.

Teh Plague ov Owchie-Blisturs
“Leev Egypt, Nao!”
Crossin’ teh Reed Sea
Jonah an teh Big Fishie
Wawter into Booze…
Happy Cat Walks on Wawter
Parable ov teh Niec Samaritan Dood
Teh Last Cheezburg Feest
Happy Cat rises from teh Deds
Awl Fings Brite an Purtyful

Yes, Jesus in the LOLcat bible becomes “Happy Cat”. And as an amusing bit of related trivia, Amazon’s Kindle store doesn’t seem to have any free editions of the real bible (without LOLcats). If you wanted to download a free bible to your Kindle, you could still get one from Project Gutenberg.

But then you wouldn’t get any funny pictures of cats!

UPDATE: It turns out there is now a free version of the (real) Bible available in Amazon’s Kindle store.

And Click here to order LOLcat Bible: In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez an da Erfs n stuffs

P.S. This book is not to be confused with “I CAN HAZ BYTECODE,” a “collection of funny and occasionally thought provoking tweets based on my work experience as a Super Senior Software Engineer at a Silicon Valley startup!”