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December 16, 2009


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I rather liked the whimsy of not breaking my back over carrying so many paperbacks; however, I didn't like the use of "over" instead of "more than," nor the use of the possessive (paperbacks') when the correct usage is simply the plural noun.

I think an agent from Amazon infiltrated Sony's ad agency. Perpetrating unintelligible, irrelevant ad copy on the consumer is a great way to ensure the Kindle's market share dominance.

My guess: Like most ads these days, this one was written by and for people in their twenties (no matter what the client's actual target demographic was).

... and is that an apostrophe after paperbacks?

@CB and @NextMoon: Not an apostrophe: a footnote. See my P.S. on the post.

I think the bookends are Amy Sedaris and William Shatner, but I'm not sure about Shatner.

Also, you've completely misread the sentence. What the ad is saying is that people who read books are weak and have brittle, papery backs. There's no way a literate person can carry so many paperbacks without breaking his/her own paperback.

What if it said:

"Carry over 350 paper backs without breaking yours."

Though I agree with the syntax point.. it's not illegitimate to rely on known syntactic processing abilities of native language speakers, like being able to pick out parts of words from their original syntactic context for the purpose of grabbing at multiple meanings.

I think the ad did exactly what an ad is supposed to do: get you to pay attention. I suspect whoever wrote this ad copy knew it was grammatically iffy -- and that understanding it would therefore require the reader to do a double-take. As a result, you remembered the ad. You even gave it free space on your blog.

It's funny. I smiled.

Sure, it's iffy syntactically. But pragmatically it's understandable.

It's not as bad as a lot of what's out there, because it's cute. It's an ad. It did what it set out to do.

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