General Question

Beta_Orionis's avatar

Anyone wondered (or know) why Amazon named their e-reader after kittens?

Asked by Beta_Orionis (3396 points ) October 23rd, 2009 from IM

Kindle = plural noun for a group of kittens

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11 Answers

drdoombot's avatar

I thought it was a strange name because kindle sounds like kindling, which is fuel (usually small pieces of wood) used to get a fire going. Considering the negative connotations of book burning and censorship, “Kindle” is a pretty unfortunate name to choose for a book-reading device.

Ame_Evil's avatar

I think it is more of a reference to the fuel/fire connotations – such as imagination, ideas, inspire, glowing. The name would then be connected to the device as reading causes the release of imagination and inspiration. I.e. you kindle your imagination by feeding it knowledge from books.

hearkat's avatar

My money’s with DrDoomBot on this one.

From Dictionary.com:
kin⋅dle1   [kin-dl]
–verb (used with object)
1. to start (a fire); cause (a flame, blaze, etc.) to begin burning.
2. to set fire to or ignite (fuel or any combustible matter).
3. to excite; stir up or set going; animate; rouse; inflame: He kindled their hopes of victory.
4. to light up, illuminate, or make bright: Happiness kindled her eyes.

–verb (used without object)
5. to begin to burn, as combustible matter, a light, fire, or flame.
6. to become aroused or animated.
7. to become lighted up, bright, or glowing, as the sky at dawn or the eyes with ardor.

kin⋅dle2   [kin-dl]
–verb (used with object)
1. (of animals, esp. rabbits) to bear (young); produce (offspring).

–verb (used without object)
2. (of animals, esp. rabbits) to give birth, as to a litter.

–noun
3. a litter of kittens, rabbits, etc.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@drdoombot I considered that as well. Sometimes I wonder what goes through the minds of product planning teams.

@Ame_Evil @hearkat good point. I neglected verb uses beyond ones concerning inflammability.

MacBean's avatar

You just wanted to use the “pink fluffy kittens” tag, didn’t you?

Ooh! Here, I just found this: How the Kindle Got Its Name

drdoombot's avatar

Barnes and Nobel’s new ereader device, the Nook, has a pretty silly name as well. It rhymes with “book?” People like to read in a warm “nook?”

I can’t begin to comprehend what they wanted to convey with that name.

ratboy's avatar

@drdoombot: It is a distraction when there is no nookie to be had.

nxknxk's avatar

I didn’t know about the kitten connotations. I always just thought of Guy Montag or something. And if it supplants bound books then it’s all the more appropriate.

Austinlad's avatar

I’m in marketing and have named many products, and I think Kindle is a terrific name. I took it immediately to mean kindle one’s imagination and curiosity for entertainment and knowledge. The negative connotations mentioned above never entered my mind.

I would add that many products have been named with words that have other meanings—Coke is a good example—with no harm to their image or sales.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@Austinlad I think the success of a name also has to do with the consumer schema and the introductory cultural context. Coke, as your example, was introduced at a time when Cocaine had few negative conotations, and soon after the product’s introduction, coke (of the distilled, bituminous coal variety) became extremely important, and thus culturally positive, to the Steel industry. Coca-cola, Coke, was sort of grandfathered into the sensibilities of US citizens.

Consider a recent energy drink, Cocaine. Initially, it provoked strong negative reactions, and the FDA pulled it from shelves, claiming the company was actually attempting to market it as a street drug. The company also adopted coke terms in naming the varieties Cut (milder flavor than the original) and Free (sugar-free)] but was eventually forced to abandon the use of Cut. It’s still available in the United States, but was nevery wildly successful.

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