What’s in a name? An EBR by any other name would read as sweet

What’s in a name? An EBR by any other name would read as sweet

Amazon is good at a lot of things.

Naming items isn’t one of them. 😉

Okay, those are both my opinion…but they are opinions that have been expressed by many people.

Even the name “Kindle”, with its association with fire, seemed an odd choice if you were arguing that you are a champion of books…and especially if you were doing something that some people were going to fear would hurt paper books. Of course, it wasn’t as bad as Barnes & Nobles’ choice of “Nook” for their e-book reader…as I reported that Kindle forum member J. Taylor pointed out way back in 2009:

Flash! Barnes & Noble’s “nook” named after…

That’s a matter of taste, which is important in terms of marketing.

More concerning is when naming has a direct practical impact on customers.

That’s been the case with the least expensive model of the Kindle.

There have been seven generations of Kindles to date…different capabilities, different morphologies…and Amazon almost always refers to that low end model as simply the “Kindle”.

Clearly, that causes a problem for people buying covers, for one thing.

A cover that would fit the Kindle 1 (the 2007 model…we actually got a free cover with that device) won’t fit the current gen(eration).

If, perhaps, Amazon at least put the generation number clearly on the device somehow, that would help.

It’s also a real challenge for people providing support to other Kindle users, like the Kindle Forum Pros (I’m one of those). As the menus change, the step by step help that many people want (and by which they are greatly benefited) becomes difficult if you don’t know which model they have (and they often don’t know, either).

So, and I would say inevitably, the community has adopted its own nicknames for different gens of the lowest priced Kindles.

Since nicknames are unofficial, they have various degrees of adoption…and they strike people different ways.

When the fourth generation of the Kindle was introduced in late 2011, I nicknamed that one the “Mindle” (for “minimum Kindle”…other people said later it was for “Mini Kindle”, which is fine with me). Amazon had referred to the first gen as just a “Kindle” (logical) and the second gen as a “Kindle 2” (that name was actually used in press releases). The third generation went back to just being the “Kindle”, but the community called it the “Kindle 3”. Amazon later renamed that one the “Kindle Keyboard”.

The fourth gen was announced at the same time as the Kindle Touch, and that was when that “Kindle Keyboard” rebranding happened.

There were now three versions of the “Kindle” currently on sale at Amazon.

I nicknamed the lowest cost one the “Mindle” partially to give a short way to differentiate it from the other Kindles.

I’ll admit it: I like making up neologisms. 🙂

Some of them get used by other people, although that’s not necessarily the point. I do it partially because it is fun for me, and partially specifically for my readers.

Some of them do catch on to some extent. I’ve seen other people use EBR (E-Book Reader) and “tradpub” (traditional publisher). Sometimes, there is a parallel evolution (that’s not that uncommon when doing something creative): I’m certainly not the only person to make up “phablet” to combine “phone” and “tablet” for the larger-screened phones).

I polled my readers, about three years ago, in

Poll Party #1

about their use of terms I’d coined. EBR was by far the most popular.


I’m sure some people detest some of the terms I’ve proposed.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Susan Cassidy, who I respect, recently asked me to stop using the term “Mindle”. Susan reported a psychogenic reaction to it, calling it “…disgustingly cutesy”.

Susan also thought it hadn’t “caught on”. I did check, and it has been used hundreds of times in the Amazon Kindle forum…and very few of those will have been by me. It’s also likely that other people independently came up with the term.

While I will ultimately determine my future use of it, I like to get a sense of what my readers think as well. If many people feel the way Susan does, that would certainly influence my decision.

So, I decided to ask you. 🙂

A somewhat different question is what you would like me to call the current generation least expensive Kindle, this one:

Kindle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Thanks for giving my your opinion…and that “thanks” goes especially to you, Susan!

If you have another suggestion for a name, or if you think the whole question is silly 😉 feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


20 Responses to “What’s in a name? An EBR by any other name would read as sweet”

  1. Zebras Says:


    “Mindle” is not cheesy. I even incorporated that into my Mindle’s name. Your re-naming of things, help keep things clear when there are so many models to keep straight. I have too many now, my husband will put things with “my kindle” for me to take to work, and inevitably pick the wrong one.

  2. Kari M Says:

    Maybe they ought to name them like they do cars — and add initials at the end (e.g., SV, LX, EX, etc.). I don’t know what any of those mean either. :-).

  3. Tom Semple Says:

    I appreciate the issue here, but ‘Mindle’ has never worked for me. I keep forgetting that it is supposed to be a shortcut for ‘minimum Kindle’, and then it just seems like a made up word without any particular association with ‘Kindle’, except that it rhymes. And the referent keeps changing as new ‘minimum’ models ship. All of the wordier variations above share that problem, except for ‘seventh generation Kindle’, which has other problems.

    You could do worse than to include the year of launch along with the model name (which does not change from year to year), as you might with a car model (‘2013 Prius’). So ‘Kindle (2014)’ would be different than ‘Kindle (2012)’. Paperwhite (2015) would be different than Paperwhite (2014) or Paperwhite (2012).

  4. Alisha Says:

    I like Mindle and use the term myself. I even named mine Mindle! Lol

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Before we get into naming things, perhaps we ought to wait and see what new EBR’s are on the horizon from Amazon this fall.

    I think the kindle name to start was a little obscure (think enkindle :grin), but it has become a successful recognizable brand with some value. When introducing new products, naming is a challenge. I think Amazon’s device naming (kindle, fire, echo) are alright — we’ll have to see where they take the echo.

    I have really really disliked the “mindle” term — it just doesn’t convey anything to non-Amazon customers — OTOH I really like EBR, it’s short, and it delineates a well-defined product category.

    I think the entry kindle should be called the Kindle Basic NOT the “Basic Kindle”. I think easily accessible product abbreviations are important. So we would have KB, KDX, KK, KT, PW, PW2, PW3, VG.

    We’re about to enter the holiday announcement season. Next week is IFA (Internazionale Funk Ausstellung) in Berlin — I don’t expect any announcements there save perhaps a few more Skylake chip details from Intel. The following week (9/9) Apple will be announcing new iPhones (and God knows what else) in NYC. Probably sometime later in September (based on past form) we can expect Amazon’s fall announcements. For Microsoft there may be two events or one — both in NYC. If two, we’ll have new phones announced late in September; if one we’ll have a massive H/W announcement in October for phones, Surfaces, W10 Threshold 2, Windows 10 Mobile, possibly something about Hololens — maybe synchronized with the opening of the new MS store in NYC on fifth Avenue. Office 2016 will be released on 9/22.

    Much to look forward to 😀 .

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Well, the issue came up now…so I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to respect what Susan had asked.

      I’m sorry you had that visceral a reaction to Mindle! I had no idea people did…in the future, feel free to let me know if something like tht bothers you.

      I do generally explain what it means at least once in each post…and then don’t explain it for the rest of the post, which is what makes it shorter to use.

      In your list, you have KB and then KDX…how does this KB get differentiated from the 2007 model?

      Like you, I’m excited to see what else is coming!

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        I’m egocentric I guess 😀 — for me the kindle didn’t start until the KDX! If you must insist, how about K1 (it was the first after all :grin).

        BTW do you have any idea why the WordPress gravatars have stopped working?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Interestingly, that’s the only model of Kindle I haven’t owned, I think. 🙂 The K1 is commonly used…although that’s no more official, I suppose, than the term I was using for the “Basic Kindle”. 😉

        The gravatars look fine for me…I see you. 🙂

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Oh and BTW I dislike tradpub as well — as it conflicts/confuses with the traditional publishing size format of “Trade” — a better made paperback that sits in between mass market PBs and hardbacks.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        That one wouldn’t have occurred to me. I could see confusion with “trade publisher”, but not “trade paperback”. Mass market paperbacks are made to be sold in a lot of outlets…any place you can have a spinner rack, for sure! 🙂 The trade paperback fits on the same shelves as hardbacks, and can be sold in bookstores by booksellers…the “trade”. Contextually, I wouldn’t have though of much confusion between the company and the product…but I appreciate you telling me.

  6. Jeff Says:

    Your repeated use of phrases like mindle and tradpub makes me want to smash my head with my laptop.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jeff!

      I have to say, I’m surprised that you and others wouldn’t have mentioned that before Susan did…it can be done in a non-confrontational way, and it would have been useful for me to know. 🙂

  7. Ann Von Hagel Says:

    The thing about “Mindle” — I’ve never heard it used anywhere other than this blog. And when you use it, you go on to explain that it’s your word for the basic kindle. If it’s meant to be shorthand . . . explaining it every time kind of defeats the purpose. 🙂

    I also think that they’re getting better at it . . . . they now have Kindle, PaperWhite, and Voyage . .. so pretty clearly distinguishable from each other, though, there are model years for the PW that have a slight variation in features. BUT — they’re all the same size/shape. So for explaining to folks asking about models available NOW, there’s no need for any further distinction. If people have questions about models purchased earlier, I ask them to describe the device . . .and can usually figure out pretty easily which it is from there and make appropriate comments.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ann!

      I actually don’t explain it every time…just once per post. When it used by other people in the Amazon forums, they don’t explain, it generally.

      Explaining it is part of my work as a trainer…I’m always careful that people understand the terms. For people who already know it, they may roll their eyes, but they are generally okay with it. For people who don’t know, it’s a big help.

      I’m a bit surprised that you find it that easy to differentiate the models based on people’s descriptions. I have a whole page on it, and the best way really is serial numbers. Oh, it’s easy enough to differentiate, say, a Kindle 1 from a Kindle 2…but a Kindle 2 international is a whole different question. 🙂

  8. D. Knight Says:

    I like the term Mindle, but I have to admit that basic Kindle or Kindle Basic is clearer and doesn’t require an explanation.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      I find “Kindle Basic” confusing, just because I still get questions on the Kindle 1 (although rarely now), and it’s not clear to me what the difference would be. The Mindle and Mindle Touch (as I refer to them) are specific models…

      • D. Knight Says:

        Hmmm. I think of “basic” as lowest level in a series, that is, the item with the least amount of features, The oldest would be “original” or something like that. But that may not be universal.

        And it still doesn’t differentiate between the Mindle and the Mindle Touch (Kindle Basic Touch is a bit confusing). I do like the terms Mindle and Mindle Touch.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, D.!

        Well, the “Basic Kindle” (that’s clearly leading the poll) would probably necessitate me footnoting every time, to explain that it refers to the 7th generation one. The issue there is that people find posts years after they were written (that happens surprisingly often), and might think that a post about the current model also applies to a model several generations later…

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