Pad Shock

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.

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5 Responses to “Pad Shock”

  1. Gary Moline Says:

    And for us older folks, the coolest feature is you can enlarge the font – no more Reader’s Digest giant print for us! Actually, I guess no more Reader’s Digest – period!

  2. Bill Reichert Says:

    “I predict that electronic publishing will be dominant for the next generation.”

    Well, maybe. But for now, most of the books I spend my time with are not available in ebook format, so until that happens, it’s a moot point for me. Besides, there’s something about me that likes the fact that my book-reading habit isn’t dependent on the availability of electricity–I could read paper by candlelight!

  3. JJ Says:

    Totally agree about the Kindle, though with this post you seriously tempt me toward the iPad. I wasn’t sure about reading on a backlit screen, but it sounds like you are saying it’s no issue. I completely agree about the advantages making trad books unattractive. For me its the ability to highlight a passage on the Kindle and then have it appear in a clippings file that I can simply sut and paste to blog. Are they allowing that on the Kindle app for iPad yet?

    • timstafford Says:

      Yes, clippings works the same on the iPad.

      And Bill, it’s true that lots of books aren’t yet available. But the barrier to making them digital is very small, so it probably won’t be long before virtually everything you want to read will be in an ebook formula.

  4. Russel Haynes Says:

    I like my kindle but was surprised to find that kindle for iPhone is more than adequate for me when I travel.

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