Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Apple’s iPad Is for Stories, Not for Books (iBooks: 2.0/10.0)
A little bit of background: I am a traditionalist. As you will note from several of the posts here, I like nothing better than the smell and feel of an old, worn (preferably first run) copy of a work of classic literature. Nevertheless, I recognize convenience and have been reading books on electronic devices for more than ten years. I am dead serious when I tell you that I read not only War and Peace, but also Moby Dick and Anna Karenina, on an early version of the Palm Pilot. Fortunately for all of us, the technology has improved greatly. I have been using a Sony Pocket eReader for approximately six months now. And I do have problems with the Sony. It is simply maddening to attempt to read any type of work with footnotes—David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest just about drove me to the mental state of Hal Incandenza. But the Sony device is lightweight, the type is crisp and clear, and there is absolutely no problem reading in full sunlight. As such, I have continued to use the Sony with pleasure and, in fact, just finished Joyce’s The Dubliners, for which a review will be forthcoming.
As for the iPad, I picked it up about two weeks ago, more for the media-related functions than the iBooks application, which has been widely criticized. Still, I thought that I would probably use the iPad as an e-reader on occasion, and I looked forward to enjoying its innovations. But—and here’s the point—there are none, at least none that I find useful or even noteworthy. It is quite simply a portable computer screen with a white background upon which blurry black type is placed – it is, in short, a Word document. But that’s not all. I have used it to read in a variety of contexts now, and I have found every one difficult and troublesome. To begin with, the weight of the device prohibits you from holding it aloft like a book for any period of time. And, as previously mentioned, the text is anything but crisp, making the reader’s eyes tire after only a few minutes of reading and resulting in a pounding headache if one reads for any extended period of time. And, did you say that you like to read at the beach? Forget it. The device is a better mirror than an e-reader in direct sunlight.
There’s more, but I think the point is made. For me, the iPad is a wonderful media device (and I plan to use it heavily for such), but a complete failure as an e-reader.