iPad Thoughts

As an experiment, I’ve written this post on the iPad, so if in fact the keyboard functionality is as much a pain in the ass as critics have said, you’ll know when my review devolves into a series of curses and short sentences.

Having an iPad is like walking around with a newborn: it’s heavier than it looks, everyone wants to touch it, and you feel conspicuous on the subway. And like a baby, this thing gets dirty quickly. My greasy fingerprints appeared all over the screen 10 minutes into firing it up. I already smeared it with a little French cheese by accident, which is surely a common smudge for this particular device. (Why yes, I do live in Park Slope!)

iBooks: So far the app is B+. I love the sample chapter feature. Yes, the Kindle has this too. But the Kindle’s a single-use device, and none of my friends buy single-use devices. I’m not fond of the title selection: David Rakoff and Elias Canetti are both on my to-read list, but no luck; it’s now retitled my to-read-in-print list. I can’t wait for publishers like New Directions and NYRB Classics to add their titles. At the same time, I’m happy to report a bunch of FSG books like The Ask and The Three Weissmanns of Westport are up and ready for purchase. I’ll be reading a few different titles in the app this week to get a feel for it. I expect it will be similar to my hit-and-miss approach with reading books on the iPhone. (In that case, the only book I could get through was, appropriately enough, Steve Knopper’s Appetite for Self-Destruction. Maybe I only like ebook texts which performatively comment on their reading format.)

No, I did not mean "idiot," you snob.

Okay, I can’t work in this format anymore. Switching back to laptop. Ahh… much better. The iPad keyboard sucks, and even the WordPress iPad app was ineffective. The iPad’s a consumption device. I give in.

I also want to note that I’m glad to see Jobs & co. have given the Oprah Book Club feature placement in the iBooks carousel. Not only is this a prominent spot for secondary editorial (beyond Apple’s, that is), but the breadth of spotlighted titles gives me hope. As various publishers, genres, and bigwigs fight for dominance in this space, this list is a healthy mix of frontlist and backlist books, including memoir and work in translation.

I would love to see more secondary editorial like this. I know the New York Times Book Review is planning to sell their issues as standalone apps. But what about a feature on superstar librarian Nancy Pearl’s favorite recent reads? We have celebrity playlists for iTunes, it makes sense there would be a corollary for iBooks.

Netflix: All the streaming films from the website are streaming in the Netflix app. This is awesome.

New York Times App: They knock it out of the park. It’s intuitive and logical. I can see reading it in this format for much longer than I read the online version. I quickly lost myself in the articles, forgetting about the device and focusing on the content.

Traveling with the Damn Thing: This will be the real test. Most of my trips are three- or four-day jaunts. I never check luggage, of course, but this makes schlepping my laptop and charger a pain. I’m taking the iPad with me to Chicago in a month to test it out on the road. I’ll rent a film via iTunes (Netflix only streams, natch) and load up on a bunch of video podcasts for the flight. Supposedly this thing’s got a 10 hour battery. We’ll see.


  • The iPod app runs in the background while accessing other apps. Nice. Especially so for me, as I only blog while listening to Beethoven’s Fifth.
  • There was definitely a point today where I couldn’t remember if I was in the Video app, the App Store app, the iPod app, or the iTunes app. If you’re trying to quickly call up a video podcast, this may happen to you.
  • Time wins for best synergy: reading their Steve Jobs issue in their new iPad format was pretty witty, and a real test of their mettle. I was impressed.

Okay, I’m going to test out the Netflix app some more. Is 1984 available to stream instant?

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Filed under ebooks, farrar straus and giroux, industry, mobile

7 responses to “iPad Thoughts

  1. Thank for nice article. 🙂

  2. Rebecca Maines

    The only thing more popular in my office than my new iPad was a colleague’s puppy. Both of us had a constant stream of visitors wanting to play with what we brought in. (The iPad does more tricks, but the puppy wins on cuteness.)

    Yes re celebrity reading lists; the iBooks store could also benefit from non-celeb lists, for discovering recommendations from other people who like books I like.

    One big advantage of sample chapters for me is seeing how clean or not clean the ebook conversion was. If the sample chapter is full of hyphens mid-word, weird spaces and characters, I know reading the whole ebook will drive me nuts, and I’m not going to buy it. (Bad enough when I run across printed books full of errors, which is increasingly common. But that’s a different rant.)

  3. First off, this made me laugh out loud “And like a baby, this thing gets dirty quickly. ”

    Second, love the idea of “celebrity play lists” – what about author’s nightstand reading lists?

  4. ahahahaha

    you are a genius.

    i love this post.

    anddddddd i still want an ipad.

  5. I’m with Carolyn. That Didion search is unreal.

  6. The search result for Didion is priceless.

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