When the Beatles released "Rocky Raccoon" in 1968, they sang that Rocky Raccoon "checked into his room / only to find Gideon's Bible." If that same lyrical character were checking into his hotel today, instead of the Bible, he might find an Amazon Kindle.
The Hotel Indigo in Newcastle, England, is replacing the once-ubiquitious Gideon's Bible with Kindles -- in every one of its 148 rooms -- starting July 16. Travelers looking forward to finding the Bible in the hotel's dresser drawer need not worry, however: The Bible is pre-loaded onto the e-readers from Amazon.
Hotel general manager Adam Munday tells the Telegraph:
“In the 18th Century, Newcastle was one of the largest print centres in Britain and we’re in Grainger Town, close to the Literary and Philosophical Society,” he said. “We wanted to reflect this literary history in a very contemporary way, so are offering guests the use of cutting-edge Kindles pre-loaded with The Bible, instead of the more traditional hardcopy Gideon’s Bible that they would expect to find in a hotel.”
During their Hotel Indigo stays, guests can download other religious texts to the Kindle on the house, provided they cost $7.80 or less (in England, that's 5 pounds).
They can also download commercial books of any type: mystery, history, poetry, classic, science fiction, comedy, biography, memoir, vampire spoof, bondage-laden romance. Not that they'll convey the same lessons as the Bible might. And the cost of those nonreligious books will be added to guests' bills. And they should hope they read fast -- the e-book will stay behind when they check out.
That is, as long as they don't take the Kindles with them. The e-readers are a bit harder to come by than a Gideon Bible. Gizmodo writes, "Currently there's no word on how the devices are secured, though it's a fair bet to assume that the cost would simply be added to the guest's credit card if the Kindle went missing."
If the Kindles stay, they could present an interesting narrative of who stayed in what room, like one person after another leaving books behind on a shelf. And if the experiment works, the chain plans to expand its in-room Kindles to its 44 hotels around the world.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Amazon Kindle. Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg