It may check e-mail, play videos, surf the web and revolutionize computing, but will it save publishing? A few weeks after the iPad's release, the reviews are in. While tech sites focus mostly on the shiny-shiny software (and are, with a few caveats, positive), bookish reviewers have been less impressed; the consensus appears to be that, while booksellers and publishers may have been hoping for a Kindle-killer, the iPad is not it. Please note that there are umpteen-mabillion reviews of the iPad and only 24 hours in the day and only six of those when I am not at work or sleeping. So, with that in mind, I offer a roundup of my favorites. For more, go forth and Google!Mike Shatzkin of Idea Logical
notes that while the screen is larger than the Kindle, the extra weight, the backlit screen and the frustrations of the iBooks store (too few books, poor organization, limited search functionality) make the iPad less than the ideal e-reader. However, he finds a silver lining: "The good news for publishers is that Apple will sell a lot of them as 'content machines': to people who aren't primarily book readers. We might pick up some new e-book readers from the large universe of people who hardly read books now as a result. That would expand the market to our benefit."Kassia Kroszer of Booksquare
agrees that the iPad will be, "at best, an ancillary device" for e-reading. The weight and size make it impractical for toting around (especially if you already have a Kindle and/or an iPhone), and she, too, is irritated with the iBooks store, albeit for different reasons: "There is an interesting prudishness in the Apple organization. As noted in this Boing Boing story
, it extends to the use of the word "sperm" when referencing a specific type of whale (the screenshot shows "s***m"). We've heard stories about apps being rejected for content reasons. As a thinking adult, this bothers me."
Jane Litte likes the iPad a lot--but not as an e-reader. On Dear Author
, she breaks down the areas where the iPad fails to deliver, citing the weight and backlit screen as big drawbacks. In addition, "the iBooks Store is sparsely populated and unbrowsable unless you only want to read and buy contemporary and historicals that Apple or the publisher have determined should meet your gaze."
And Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
not only agrees with all of the above, but answers the all-important question: Is it worth what it costs? "Depends on what you want. Do you want a device that will allow you to watch tv and movies via Netflix, use Twitter, send email, and maybe read something? Sure.... Do you want a dedicated digital book reader? Then this is not the best option. And I still don't know what the best option is, to be honest. I don't think it's here yet. And I await its arrival."
But then consider the opinions of two other bookfolk who have iPads and are enthusiastic about them.
Drew Goodman, trade books sales manager at the University of Utah Campus Store, says, "Overall, I've enjoyed using the iPad, [both] as an eReader and for many other things." Concerning the device's weight, "it's really no heavier than holding a hardcover book." While he agrees that iBooks has drawbacks, "I'm sure the iBookstore and iBook app will get better and evolve over time, giving a better buying and reading experience." He also says the eyestrain issue has been overblown. "To me, reading from the iPad isn't like reading from a backlit computer monitor. You have complete control over the brightness from within iBooks and the Kindle app."
Elizabeth Silvis, who over the years has worked for Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins and Ingram, likes her iPad so much that she sold her Kindle. "The best part about the iPad is that it doesn't restrict you to JUST using their product. You have books you downloaded from Goodreads? Add it! Kindle library? Add it! Your own Great American Novel? Add it! Heck, you could probably even write your book on the iPad." And she prefers the backlit screen: "Having to always bring/use a light source to read the Kindle was really annoying. I can (and have) played with the brightness settings endlessly.... Like anything new and shiny, you just have to get used to it." But, a true reader, she concluded, "The iPad or the Kindle will NEVER replace books for me. When I travel I bring my electronic device loaded to the gills, but I always bring a book or two as well."--Jenn Northington