Last summer I decided to replace my laptop (gone south) with an iPad. The idea of lugging around 1 ½ pounds instead of six was appealing, and at $500 it was a fairly inexpensive experiment. During October and November I was on the road a lot, and I found the iPad, augmented by a Blu-tooth keyboard, worked adequately. It’s not for everybody but it works for me.
But here is the shocking development. I didn’t carry any books with me; I read exclusively on the Kindle app for my iPad. I read the Bible, one Dickens novel and two Hardy. When I got home after almost a month on the road, I picked up a paper-and-ink book, and realized to my surprise I was just a teeny bit disappointed. I never dreamed I would say this but it’s true: I actually prefer reading on the iPad.
There are several practical reasons. I like having a built-in dictionary as I read, and I like the way the Kindle app keeps notes and highlights. More than anything, though, it’s a look-and-feel thing. The iPad is light and compact, it keeps your place for you, you can read without a light, turning pages is neat—it’s a nifty machine!
About a year ago my agent, Janet Grant, mentioned over coffee that she liked her Kindle so much she would never read ink-and-paper again. For an agent, who spends so many waking hours reading, that’s a powerful statement. I wouldn’t go anywhere nearly that far. But for a slow adopter like myself, somebody who views reading as a deeply sensual pleasure, the fact that ebooks stand up to ink-books at all is powerfully suggestive. I predict that electronic publishing will be dominant for the next generation.