One of my favorite scenes from Anchorman is when Brick declares his undying love for a lamp. I have that same sort of love for my Kindle.
If you are an avid reader how could you not love something that allowed your entire book collection be contained in 9 ounces of electronic wizardry? No more bright sun washout at the beach. No more lost bookmarks or folded pages. I can lookup words I don’t know and get the latest book from the comfort of my couch. Now I can read on my elliptical without having to forge some unnatural physical device to keep the pages open.
I love Kindle. It is utilitarian paradise.
Then why do I download all of my books to my iPad?
The problem with my Kindle is that it has great utility but I am left feeling a little cold when using it. It doesn’t have the warmth of a real book or even my iPad, yet it is more functional than either. I don’t see the font variations used, the illustrations aren’t as vivid and to be honest there is something comforting about a dog-eared page. Plus it is all in black and grey.
Everything that has ever been designed has both utility and an emotional appeal to it. The utility can easily be measured; the emotional appeal is a little harder. Yet we continue to buy and use based on how something makes us feel. It’s as if we have self-worth wrapped up into our electronics.
My Mac is a great example. I have heard all of the technical arguments from both sides on why the Mac or PC is a better platform. In all honesty most of them are really hollow – you can do great things with both. The reason I love my Mac is that it appeals to my aesthetic and emotional needs.
As a designer (and we are all designers of some sort) we must consider the emotional aspect of our audience. If we are going to fill a technical need we should also strive to fill an emotional one as well.
So if I am willing to forfeit some utility to gain emotional comfort from my iPad, why even keep the Kindle around? Because there are some situations where utility trumps emotions. I keep my Kindle for the many times a year I go to the beach.
I make-up the emotional loss with crashing waves and warm sea breezes.