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The TRUTH: Why the Kindle Will Fail

With all the brouhaha over the new Kindle 2, many are speculating on the future of Amazon’s eBook reader. Yet few people know the secret history of the Kindle. This history must be revaled before people understand the TRUE reasons why the Kindle will fail.

The Kindle's Inspiration: The Atari ST

The Kindle's Inspiration: The Atari ST

Anyone born before Reagan’s second term will find it blisteringly obvious that the Kindle was designed in the 1980s. Our inside sources have revealed to us that the Kindle was originally developed in 1988 by a joint effort between a rogue faction of Ted Nelson’s Xanadu Project and Atari’s skunkworks research lab, headed by Alan Kay and bolstered by engineers from the STBook project. They were ahead of their time, but the Times had no place for them.

The Atari STBook

The Atari STBook

News of the Kindle first filtered through to Weyerhauser after an unusually large order of paper, intended for printing the Kindle manual (this was the 80s, when no amount of irony went noticed). The size of the order raised eyebrows further down the supply chain, who reported to their union bosses, and so on. Spymasters at the Author’s Guild soon gained intelligence of the groundbreaking new ebook reader, and immediately recognized the Kindle’s imminent threat. This marked the beginning of the end.

Atari initially planned a surprise release of the Kindle in February, 1989. Dean Koontz was commissioned to write a novella to be made available only on the new reader, but he secretly fed information on the release schedule to his guildmasters. On January 3rd, 1989, the SFWA, acting on behalf of the Guild, dispatched ninjas to Atari’s manufacturing plant in Hong Kong. (This became a pattern in the AG response to imminent threats. See the wikipedia entry for Rocketbook.) Meanwhile, Alan Kay had decoded the Guild’s secret transmissions (they were using ROT-13). Knowing he had a limited amount of time, Alan contacted William Gibson.

Gibson had recently taken on an apprentice, Neal Stephenson. (This was before their famous split, before the Juan de Fuca incident, and before Stephenson’s blood pact with Bruce Sterling.) The dynamic duo immediately took Gibson’s personal suborbital to Hong Kong, where they held off the ninjas long enough for a tenth of the manufacturing run to be loaded onto their craft. With heat-seeking shurikens in pursuit, they set off, losing their deadly pursuers high above the Pacific Ocean. Behind them, in Hong Kong, the smoke from the burning factory rose high above the cityscape.

Gibson and Stephenson landed at LaGuardia in New York, hoping this would be the last place the AG would expect them to go. Now, Neal Stephenson had an old drinking buddy named Jeff Bezos. Gibson and Stephenson used Bezos’ place in New Jersey as a hideout while the SFWA ninjas scoured the West Coast for them. Now including Bezos in their scheming, the three agreed that the world was not yet ready for such destabilizing technology. (This agreement is the source of Gibson’s famous quote, “The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.”) They stashed the surviving Kindles in Bezos’ basement and returned to their cover operations as science fiction authors. (The SFWA did not officially pardon Gibson for his breach for many years, until the peace accords following the Vancouver Island Incident of December 2002, just prior to the publication of Pattern Recognition.)

These Kindles later crossed the country in a U-Haul with Bezos on his epic 1994 cross-country drive to Seattle. The travails Bezos encountered on this journey are too numerous to describe in this document, but Bezos knew he was a marked man. In response, he determined to bring the AG to heel by building the largest retail bookseller in the world, and then unleash the Kindle upon them when they least expected it.

Bezos’ plan worked, but for one flaw: except for minor updates to the Kindle’s firmware to accommodate faster processors and a new e-Ink displays, the Kindle remains the same device as envisioned by the engineers and designers of 1988 (all of whom, save Alan Kay, have been assassinated by AG agents). While it now supported Web 0.7b-era HTML as a format (no tables, IBM 437-style code pages) instead of Atari’s proprietary SGML, it simply wasn’t ready to handle the wealth of content available on the pre-Google pressed tree pulp format so derided by the digerati. Some say that Bezos has been corrupted by the AG, or perhaps controlled by SFWA telepaths. Others have suggested that the paper cartels have finally reacted, extorting Amazon with the threat of embargo against any purveyors of eInk technology, forcing Bezos to cripple the plucky little eBook reader.

Whatever rumors you may believe, know this: the Kindle will fail. Powerful forces have been awakened by the eBook threat, and they will not suffer the Kindle to dig into their entrenched market positions.

BREAKING NEWS: we have just found out that the Kindle 2 now supports tables. Congratulations, Amazon, and welcome to 1995!

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