Title text: In the new edition of The Giving Tree, the tree uses social tools to share with its friend all the best places to buy things.
The Giving Tree is a book in which a tree gives everything it has to a little boy out of love and a desire for the boy's company: apples to sell, wood to build a house, even letting the boy cut it down to make a boat. At the end of the book, the boy comes back as a grown man and the tree tells him sadly that it has nothing else to give. The man tells the tree that he only wants a tree stump to sit on, and the tree gladly gives him that. Notably, the tree's moments of greatest distress come when it fears that it can give the boy no more and that the boy will leave it.
.azw is an e-book file format used and created by the online company Amazon.com, which makes and sells the popular Amazon Kindle e-reader. Complaints against the format have been made concerning its closed nature: that all information should be free and imposing restrictions on its usage is limiting growth in the modern world. This comic was published two days before the release of the fifth generation of Kindles, alongside complaints that Amazon would continue to use DRM "encumbered" e-book formats.
The comic is a criticism of the usage of DRM in digital commerce. The tree's willingness to offer up its file is parallel to the generous nature of the tree in The Giving Tree. The tree is prevented from sharing its file however, by DRM in the file. With nothing to gain from the tree, Cueball and Megan leave the tree alone, in a manner similar to the fears of the tree in The Giving Tree. The final frame is a reference to the iconic silhouette of a tree that is used in the loading screens of Amazon's Kindles, a link between the abandoned tree in the comic and an abandoned Kindle.
The Kindle went on to become wildly successful after its launch, with record sales and new publisher deals.
- [Megan and Cueball hang out in front of a tree.]
- Megan: Whoa. What's this?
- Cueball: What's what?
- Megan: This tree has a USB port.
- Cueball: Try connecting to it, I guess
- [Megan brings out a laptop and connects to it.]
- Megan: It's offering up a drive with one file on it.
- Cueball: What's the file?
- Megan: An eBook. "Shel_Silverstein_-_The_Giving_Tree.azw"
- Cueball: Never heard of it. Let's take a look!
- Laptop: DRM Error: You have not purchased rights to view this title. Lending is not enabled.
- Cueball: Huh. Oh well.
- Megan: Let's go see what Mike is up to.
- [The tree is alone.]