Reading on the iPad

by Dean Mattson

One of my favorite new uses for my iPad is for reading, whether it’s blogs, newspaper articles and books, and I find myself reading more than I have in years.

For books, I’ve been using the two most prominent apps in that category – Amazon’s Kindle app (not to be confused with their Kindle reading device) and Apple’s own iBooks. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and although I’d prefer to have all my ebooks in one place, I’m probably going to end up using both for the foreseeable future.

Both offer a similarly pleasant reading experience. They’ll both take up your iPad’s screen so you won’t be distracted, and you tap to bring up additional menus and, with another tap, they go away. Both will allow you to increase or decrease the size of the text – a very nice feature. They each allow you to download books straight to your device and will save your place for you when you exit the app.

The favorite feature of mine that they both do is allow you to download samples of the book so you have the chance to read a very generous excerpt of the book so you can decide whether or not you really want to buy it. I always hated it when I bought a book at the bookstore only to discover that it didn’t grab my interest when I got it home. So I would try to sludge through it because I felt obligated to read it because I spent money on it. Now I make it a point to read the whole sample so I’m sure I’m going to like it before I purchase the complete book.

There are a few differences however. The Kindle’s main advantage is the much greater number of books Amazon has in their ebook store. Another advantage is that Kindle lets you add your own notes to a book and exports it out to a webpage that you can make public. (Currently you can only highlight sections in iBooks. The ability to add notes is coming in an update, but there’s been no information on whether there’s any way to share them.)

There’s two reasons I prefer iBooks though. When you put your iPad in landscape, you get a nice two page format which is preferred way to read. Also in iBooks, you’re able to get definitions of unknown words by tapping on them. I don’t use this feature often – I prefer to ‘go with the flow’ when I’m reading rather than stop but sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me and, in those cases, that’s nice to have.

So when I’m looking for a book, I try to find in the iBooks bookstore first, and then I go to Amazon’s website and see if it’s available for the Kindle there.