A new product, a new word

We’re pleased with the reaction to our first vooks—and, as language lovers, we’re intrigued by how the word vook itself has entered the popular lexicon. In April, the word Vook appeared in a New York Times article as a proper noun referring to the company, “Vook,” but the article also employed capital-V Vook to designate a “Vook prototype.” An individual vook, then, remained a proper noun, as if the first book was a “Book.”  Then, on the day of our launch, The New York Times canonized our first releases as “vooks.” The distinction between making Vook a proper noun and making it a general one is critical: We’ve created an entirely new category of media and an entirely new word. Across the Web, vook is entering the lingua franca of digital book discussion. It’s as if the first automobiles were called “fords” instead of Model T’s or cars. We’d all be driving fords today and getting into ford crashes.

Right now, we’re the only ones making vooks. Though we’re happy about the spread of the word as an accepted moniker for every manner of digital book — in a nod to Ford, we’ll call it Vookism —  we’d like to point out that we’re the only ones taking the risk to make the thing itself. So get a vook and let us know what you think of our innovation. Unlike Ford we’re open to suggestion — and this could be your chance to influence media history . . .

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  • Mike Cane says:

    I think it’s safe to say that anyone seeing the term “vook” will know it’s from Vook the company. This is what happens when the implications of a company name aren’t thought through.

  • True. But look at Kleenex or Scotch tape. Those are brand names that became generic terms. So it does happen.

  • As a recovering attorney, I worry a little about the trademark implications of vook becoming a generic term since it’s also the company name. As generic terms have no trademark protection, it follows that the Vook company –if vook becomes a generic term, will lack some valuable trademark protections against competitors. Ownership of the domain vook.com will likely obviate much of the confusion between Vook and other companies, but maybe not all. It’s hard to anticipate the implications of such a development 10-20 years down the road, but it might be worth thinking through a bit. For instance, when Xerox Corp. realized that “xerox” was becoming a generic term for the products of its machines, it successfully defended the trademark by clarifying that its machines produced “photocopies” and that the term Xerox applied only to the machines made by Xerox Corp, rather than to the copies they produced. In that vein,it might be a good idea to devise a generic term for the product Vook.com produces before competitors enter the field.

  • Eremeeff says:

    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.

  • [...] we didn’t miss this item in this morning’s Globe and Mail that demonstrated our company name (as we’ve mentioned before) is fast becoming a catch-all for every sort of enhanced book. Apparently, dictionary creators and [...]

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