If you prefer your reading to be dead-tree-free, your options are increasing steadily. There's the Amazon Kindle, of course, as well as the Vook and the Nook. Now the bendable Skiff e-Reader, financed by newspaper publisher Hearst, is making its public debut at CES, which opens tomorrow in Las Vegas.
MediaBistro called the introduction "auspicious," but asked, parenthetically: "'Skiff'? Where are they getting these ugly names?"
Well, MediaBistro, in this case they're getting them from a standard English-language dictionary. A skiff is a small boat (originally a boat on a ship); the word was imported from French esquif around 1575, and it's closely related to German Schiff and English ship.
An "ugly name"? Not to my ears. I recognized the word (yes, I solve crossword puzzles), got the "boat" connotation right away, and remembered my Emily Dickinson:
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away...
A book as a little boat: what an appealing image. The flexible Skiff device even looks like a sail, an association reinforced by the stylized sailboat logo (see above)
As a word, "Skiff" is easy to pronounce; it sounds fast (think jiff), light (think whiff), and fun (think skip and riff). As a company, Skiff looks impressive: Besides the Hearst millions, it has a solid, experienced management team of actual grownups.
And, not for nothing, the company managed to secure the skiff.com domain. It's not strictly necessary—skiffreader.com would have been just fine—but it does communicate to other investors, and to the business community in general, that this is a serious company that has staked a claim in its market.
Hat tip to Karen Wise, who alerted me to the MediaBistro post.