Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New York Times on e-books, iPads

Today's New York Times contains David Pogue's funny review of iPad: The Apple iPad is basically a gigantic iPod Touch. The review is in two sections: one for tech-heads, one for "regular people." The upshot seems to be that while regular people will probably love the iPad, tecchies are less enthusiastic. (Perhaps this is true of all things in life.) Some quotes from the review follow.

On the iPad book reading app, from the tech part:
There’s an e-book reader app, but it’s not going to rescue the newspaper and book industries (sorry, media pundits). The selection is puny (60,000 titles for now). You can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces). And you can’t read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine — not even a Mac or iPhone.

The book reading app, from the regular person part:
The new iBooks e-reader app is filled with endearing grace notes. For example, when you turn a page, the animated page edge actually follows your finger’s position and speed as it curls, just like a paper page. Font, size and brightness controls appear when you tap. Tap a word to get a dictionary definition, bookmark your spot or look it up on Google or Wikipedia. There’s even a rotation-lock switch on the edge of the iPad so you can read in bed on your side without fear that the image will rotate.

I want to fast-forward three to five years ahead, when the little bugs are fixed and the price is low and I can just go get one of these. Or, you know, an iPhone. It's hard waiting for technology to smooth out!

Another NYT article, this one on how since e-books have no discernable covers when you are reading them (all an onlooker can see is the device you're using to read), the e-book thus takes away a certain instant visual marketing/advertising component from publishers. It's here.

I can say that I've had several conversations with people who have Kindles, mostly on planes. Usually, we are discussing how much we enjoy the device, or how much we like the other person's carrying case or whatever. What we're reading at the time tends not to get mentioned.

I have to say, I love trying to see the covers of other people's books. Perhaps e-book readers need a back window, one that shows the cover or title of the book you're reading. Or not. As much as I love seeing what other people are reading, I love even more the fact that e-book readers enable me to "anonymously" read or buy any old trashy thing I feel like. In general, I probably shouldn't worry about that kind of thing, but that's another topic for another day.

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