Tolstoy Gets Nookered


A reader discovered that every instance of the word "kindle" had been replaced by "nook" as he read the classic on his, you guessed it, Nook e-reader.


Tolstoy, hard at work writing the word nook kindle (Wikimedia Commons)

Here are a few passages from Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, with one small change made to them:

Captain Tushin, having given orders to his company, sent a soldier to find a dressing station or a doctor for the cadet, and sat down by a bonfire the soldiers had nookd on the road.

"Believe me," said Prince Dolgorukov, addressing Bagration, "it is nothing but a trick! He has retreated and ordered the rearguard to nook fires and make a noise to deceive us."

"In our temples we recognize no other distinctions," read the Grand Master, "but those virtue and vice. Beware of making any distinctions which may infringe equality. Fly to a brother's aid whoever he may be, exhort him who goeth astray, raise him that falleth, never bear malice or enmity toward thy brother. Be kindly and courteous. Nook in all hearts the flame of virtue. Share thy happiness with thy neighbor, and may envy never dim the purity of that bliss. Forgive thy enemy, do not avenge thyself except by doing him good. Thus fulfilling the highest law thou shalt regain traces of the ancient dignity which thou hast lost."


It was as if a light had been nookd in a carved and painted lantern and the intricate, skillful, artistic work on its sides, that previously seemed dark, coarse, and meaningless, was suddenly shown up in unexpected and striking beauty.

Notice something odd? So did shop-owner and artist Philip Howard as he read War and Peace on his, you guessed it, Barnes & Noble Nook.

IMG_1322-200x300.pngIt seems someone at Superior Formatting Publishing, the company that packaged the $0.99 edition of the book for the Nook platform, had gotten a little over-eager with the find-and-replace function, and had replaced the 12 instances of the word "kindle" (in some spots, "kindled") with "nook." As Kendra Albert writes at The Future of the Internet blog, this didn't come from inside the Barnes & Noble marketing department but, "rather, it's likely that Superior Formatting Publishing ported its Kindle version of War and Peace over to the Nook -- doing a search and replace to make sure that any Kindle references they'd inserted, such as in the advertising at the end of the book about their fine Kindle products, were simply changed to Nook."

Of course, publishers' errors are nothing unique to digital publications, though the particularities of this one packed a certain humorous punch. And, on the upside for ebooks, it's sure easier to fix a digital mistake than a printed one. After all, we already know they know how to use find and replace.

H/t to Yoni Appelbaum, @yappelbaum.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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