R&D presentation at Be-Leaf-Er

R&D presentation at Be-Leaf-Er

Scene: a parallel universe. Johannes Gutenberg’s family was killed in the uprising in 1411, and movable type and the inventor’s other innovations did not see realization in that period. Movies were introduced 100 years ahead of our time, and visual media became the main way of communicating ideas. Reading and writing existed, of course, but it wasn’t the way anybody did business. Nikola Tesla, working in an unlikely in our world ongoing partnership with Thomas Edison, made motion picture cameras with sound household items by the start of the 20th Century. At the dawn of the 21st Century, a new technology arrived which was able to mass produce many pages of the written word bound together, and the paper book as part of pop culture was born. Each book was expensive…an individual copy of a novel could cost $100. Since the Industrial Revolution had still happened, and there was no special demand for paper, there aren’t forests designated for publishing the way there are in our reality. One company, Be-Leaf-Er, has dominated the nascent paperbook market. They did this in part by trying something about which there had been a great deal of skepticism: original works, rather than adaptations of movies. “No one will want to spend hours reading a story unless they are already familiar with it,” was a common objection. Books went from being twenty-page movie summaries to something more closely resembling the novels we know on our Earth. As we join our story, the R&D (Research & Development) Department is about to unveil their latest generation of the paperbook…

In a small conference room at Be-Leaf-Er headquarters, “Flicks”, the Vice President of Engineering, is smiling broadly and nearly bouncing up and down, even though seated at the table. Nikoleen Eddson, CEO, is watching a video on a small screen which has automatically popped up from the tabletop. Also present is Marketing Chief, Greene Bawkes.

Nikoleen:  “Okay, Flicks. I’ve watched your report…I’m anxious to see the actual item.”

Flicks: “Do I just show it to you, or should there be some sort of protocol…?”

Greene: “This isn’t a sales pitch, Flicks. I want to see what your team’s been whispering about for the past six months.”

Nikoleen: “Actually, Greene, I wouldn’t say this isn’t a sales pitch…”

Flicks swallows nervously

Greene: “Oh, come on, Niki…we’re already committed. If you didn’t think we were going to do it, you shouldn’t have teased it in that vidnail.”

Nikoleen: “I still want to be sold. I’m going to get a lot of questions about this…I have to be enthusiastic.”

Greene: “Just get on with it, Flicks.”

Flicks: “Well, here it is…the Sliver.”

Greene: “We’re not calling it that…it’s not a very pleasant thought, is it? It’s the Whisper.”

Flicks: “Um…okay, here’s the Whisper.”

Flicks hands the Whisper over to Nikoleen

Nikoleen: “I don’t…whoa, what just happened?”

Flicks: “You rotated the spine. I’m really proud of my team on that one. See, if you go from sitting up to laying down, you can turn the spine so you can keep the text perpendicular to the wall in any position.”

Nikoleen: “I’ve never seen anything like that. That is cool.”

Greene: “Why is that better than tilting your head? Who lays down and keeps their head in the same position it was in when they were sitting up?”

Flicks: “Well, they never could before…maybe now they will.”

Greene: “Keep going…what else does it do?”

Flicks: “I’m sure you can tell, CEO Eddson.”

Nikoleen: “I don’t see it. Bawkes, you try it.”

Bawkes takes the Whisper and feels the pages carefully

Bawkes: “Are the pages waterproof? People have really been wanting that.”

Flicks: “Nope.”

Nikoleen: “Stain proof? Washable?”

Flicks:  “No, they are still paper. It is the pages, though. Give up?”

Nikoleen: “Just tell us, Flicks.”

Flicks: “You’ll love this, Bawkes! The pages are 20% thinner then they were before!”

Bawkes: “Thinner? I’ve looked at something like 47,000 customer vids…no one ever said the pages were too thick.”

Flicks:  “But…this was really hard to do! We managed to maintain the tensile strength…I think we’ve even improved it with a multidirectional grain which resists tearing. No more paper cuts and the book is two percent lighter!”

Nikoleen: “I thought you said twenty percent.”

Flicks: “The pages are 20% thinner, but most of the weight of the book is in the spine. The rotating spine added some weight, but we not only compensated for that we improved on the overall strain on our customers.”

Nikoleen: “Bawkes, have people complained about the weight?”

Bawkes: “A few…statistically insignificant. Not as many as complain that they can’t find the volume buttons.”

Flicks looks crestfallen

Bawkes: “I can tell you some things I do hear about. People don’t like that you took away the index and the table of contents…are those back?”

Flicks: “They would add to the weight.”

Bawkes: “Niki, have you given any more thought to letting people read it out loud?”

Nikoleen: “It’s not worth fighting with the modios about it…they are worried that if we let people read it out loud, they’ll start acting it out and turn it into something you share with other people, like your kids. They don’t want the competition.”

Bawkes: “That doesn’t give us much to work with.”

Nikoleen: “Relax, Flicks…you’re not in trouble. It’s as much my fault as yours. Next time, Bawkes, I want you working with the design team from the beginning. I want you sharing with them what you hear from our customers. I take responsibility for this…I’m the leader, it was up to me to guide this process. The question is, what do we do now? Flicks, how does the production cost compare to the Twigless?”

Flicks: “It’s a lot less! We can produce them for about 63% the cost.”

Nikoleen: “Maybe if we introduce it as a budget model…”

Bawkes: “No way! We’re going to raise the price! Tack a hundred bucks onto it…making people think it’s really special! I mean, it is…unique. Yeah, we can do something with that. It’s like those weird Blur Shoes or the Ergo-Fork. They’re expensive because…they take more work to make, not because they work better.”

Nikoleen: “Bawkes, I like it. Start working on a press vid. Put some sculptors in it…they get paid a lot of money for what’s basically a hunk of rock. They’ll get it. Yeah, it’s a work of art…”

Flicks: “CEO Eddson?”

Nikoleen: “Yes, Flicks?”

Flicks: “Do you want to look at our folding pen now?”

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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.


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