Even though I graduated in August, I’m still on my school’s email list. I still get their “IN THE LOOP” emails with campus activities, events, and special speakers. Sometimes it’s a load of garbage, but every once in a while there’s something that I find interesting (talks with a Auschwitz survivor, the effect of immigration on pop culture, etc). But when I opened this email my mind was blown with the absolute ridiculousness of what I had just received through my school’s “activities” email chain:
Are you interested in an eReader but don’t know which one is right for you? Learn about Barnes & Noble’s eReader at a Montclair State NOOK Night at the B&N in Clifton Commons, Tuesday, Nov. 30 from 7 to 8 p.m.
Faculty, staff and students will have the opportunity to meet the store’s digital master, who will demonstrate the attributes of the NOOK including PUB IT!, which offers independent authors a way to digitally distribute their work through bn.com. Attendees also will be among the first to try the new NOOKcolor. Scheduled to be released later this month, NOOKcolor has full color touchscreen and wireless access, with the ability to share reading with friends via Facebook and Twitter.
Free coffee and cookies will be available. Free transportation is available but space is limited. A shuttle will leave from the Red Hawk Deck at 6:30pm (please arrive by 6:15pm) and will leave B&N at 8:15pm. If you are interested, please reserve your space at the Center for Student Involvement or just respond to this email.
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You can’t really see it now (since Tumblr has reformatted it a bit) but this email was sent in BOLD COMIC SANS. I mean…really? You’re sending out an email to a body of university students in a font that is pretty widely recognized as the least acceptable to use for websites, papers…and pretty much everything else?
Second, the content of this is entirely condescending. It is making the assumption that the students at my school are incapable of doing the research involved with making a purchase as important as an e-reader. People of my generation are smart enough to do their own price comparison shopping through the web, using resources such as Consumer Reports, Amazon Reviews, or tech sites like Gizmodo. Hell, my mom uses the internet to research major purchases.
There is a ton of literature available on the internet comparing the price, quality, and accessibility of all the major e-readers on the market. So why would I want to go to a Barnes and Noble-sponsored event to make a decision about buying an e-reader? The event will be full of BN associates, with their false and eager smiles attempting to push me into buying a product that I don’t even really need. Because let’s face it: what college professor has ever assigned a text that’s actually available in a downloadable form? One of my professors got mad that I didn’t buy the exact edition of a book he had put on the required reading list—I’m pretty sure he would have had a seizure if I brought an e-reader to class. And the new Nook seems like a teacher’s worst nightmare: you can read books AND surf Facebook and Twitter.
And what is of course the most glaring problem with this is that it’s basically a huge advertisement for Barnes and Noble. Luring hungry college students in with the promise of free coffee and snacks, this doesn’t even try to be anything more than Barnes and Noble trying to shove their products down the throats of what they see as a key demographic. What’s even worse is that the school is actively promoting it as if this is some amazing special event that only a select few will get to attend.
I’m pretty pissed off that my school thinks that I’m stupid enough to be excited about a glorified PR stunt (that isn’t really very good, most consumer events like this have the decency to give a few units away in a raffle). It makes me wonder how much money BN paid my school for this disgusting advertisement, or of the administration at my school was idiotic enough to promote their product for free.