June 9, 2014

A U.S. ambassador was just sworn in on a Kindle, because why the hell not?


SONY DSCIf you still need proof that ebooks are the unfortunate future of reading, then look no further than the U.S. Constitution. About two years ago, this aging document packed up its articles and moved to the ritzy Kindle, where it now only deigns to make appearances for big shot politicians and people who will pay for it on Amazon. The Washington Post reports that Suzi LeVine, our new representative to Switzerland, is now the first U.S. ambassador to take the oath on such a Kindle, placing her hand on an “E-ink” page of the Constitution during a ceremony last Monday.

Because our government appreciates the irony of an ereader destined to get felt up more than it gets read, they rightly made sure a Kindle Touch was on hand for the occasion. But even with the Touch’s many user-friendly features, it’s possible that the newness of the device detracted from the gravity of the proceedings. It most likely did, if only because the Kindle Touch looks like an anemic Etch a Sketch and has a weird font—but people can get used to anything. The U.S. Embassy London got to tweet their requisite hand-on-Kindle photo, everyone got to have a good giggle, and probably by next time no one will bat an eye at the thing.

The real question is why they needed an electronic version in the first place. It could be a cost issue. A quick search on Amazon reveals that the print version of the Constitution is a full $7.99, but that you can get the e-version for free (the amendments cost a little extra, naturally). This begs more questions: Did the government buy their copy of the Constitution from Amazon? Can we put a price on our nation’s founding principles? And why is the author of the Constitution listed as “United States,” when we all know that the Gulf of Mexico is just too wide to hold onto a pen?

In the end, the decision to switch to the ereader boiled down to, most likely, why the hell not? In this day and age, you can download all sorts of things to your e-reader: Mad Libs, swimming lessons, and instructions on how to download a book. None of these things really benefit from having an e-version, and yet here they are. Since it’s come to this, an age where we put things on e-readers just for the hell of it, I have some personal requests for things that I’d like to see in digital form. The backs of cereal boxes would be a nice thing to have, because sometimes they have brainteasers that are too tricky to be completed during breakfast. A compilation of t-shirt witticisms would be helpful too, just in case I find myself near a silkscreen and don’t know what to print. Lastly, for the love of god, can I please download my parking ticket? I’m already broke from buying this Kindle, and now I have no idea where my parking ticket is.