It’s hard to guess how many people actually get any use out of the bibles that are typically left in hotel rooms by the Gideons. Chances are good that the percentage of hotel guests who so much as touch theirs is astoundingly low. Somehow, I think that we can count on the fact that the Kindles that are replacing these bibles in the Hotel Indigo’s 148 rooms will prove more generally useful.
This Newcastle, England establishment has come up with a fairly ingenious arrangement. Every room has its own Kindle. Any guest who wants to use it can either browse the books it already has loaded or can purchase other religious content worth up to $7.80 (5 ppunds). Anything non-religious is still available but will be added to the customer’s bill on the way out. Naturally the first book to be loaded onto each Kindle will be the bible, just in case somebody really needs to have access to it, but there are many other titles to choose from now.
This is only a trial run of a potential change for the whole chain. After July 16th, things will be evaluated to see if it was a success and whether or not to keep the Kindles around. Best case scenario, the Kindle will be replacing the bible in 44 hotels around the world.
The biggest question this raises is that of security. We don’t know how the hotel intends to make sure things stay as they should. Naturally you would need to charge the cost of the Kindle to the guest if they walked off with it, making the proposition far more expensive than taking a Gideon Bible. How they protect guest privacy, and their own investment, will be more complicated.
Assume you have a Kindle with the bible loaded onto it. Anybody who can purchase on the device, as we know is the case for these, can also delete from the downloaded titles. It would still be available for re-download, of course. Given that anybody can add books to the associated account, though, even that might be a problem.
I would imagine that some guests might object to having to find their bible in the middle of a long list of other peoples’ favorite romance books and assorted other content. If the hotel chooses to delete all content aside from the bible from every Kindle account after each guest leaves, they are just throwing away material that is potentially interesting to their customers. That seems unlikely. All of that completely ignores potential privacy concerns associated with keeping a long list of all the reading habits of people staying in these rooms.
The easier solution might have been to go with an eReader that accepted a removable memory card, but when you’re thinking of eReaders and their associated book stores the Kindle is the obvious choice. It would be nice to see this take off despite the complications. A Kindle in every hotel room would be quite a bit more useful than most things you’re likely to find there.