Friday, April 16, 2010

From the iPad Nation Mailbag: Using the iPad for Reading, Writing, and Research

I don't know about you, but I get a little weary at times of reviews written by the techno-geeks of the gadget press about devices like the iPad and the Kindle. Many of these writers are so fixated on cool features that they tend to lose sight of the actual uses to which we put the devices we buy and our real motives for buying them.

So one of the reasons I began writing this blog (and why I earlier began writing about the Kindle) is that a lot of us want to hear about these little machines from the point of view of people who are actually enthusiastic about using them to make the things we already do -- like reading, writing, and research -- more productive, efficient, and fun. You don't have to be an English major, like me, to follow this blog, but it will definitely help if you are someone who loves to read, or write, or research things, or maybe even all three.

One such person, it seems, is an author named Laura Gibbs who left a comment on my Kindle Nation Daily blog the other day. I was not aware of her until I read her comment, but she's a very interesting, imaginative and somewhat entrepreneurial author. Her highly regarded translation of Aesop's Fables is available on the Kindle and all the Kindle apps, she's written a few other interesting books in paperback, and -- I love this concept -- she's even published a spiral-bound Sudoku book using Roman numerals

I'm sharing this comment that she posted here because she packed plenty of information into a few sentence, and my hope of course is that other current or prospective citizens of iPad Nation find a few nuggets here to help you get more out of your ereading experiences:

Laura Gibbs said...
My main reason in purchasing an iPad was because I needed an ebook reader that would make it easy for me to read the 15th-, 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century books available in PDF format from GoogleBooks, Internet Archive, Early English Books Online and the University of Munich's amazing Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek project. The GoodReader application for the iPad is a fantastic PDF reader that allows you to read extremely large PDF files in a very convenient way (GoodReader did not work well on the iPhone but their iPad version of the app is marvelous), with excellent file transfer and file management features. I know people are more interested in epub formatted books and other commerical ebook formats, but for someone like me (academic researcher) who is more interested in reading PDF-formatted books made available from library digitization projects, the iPad is a godsend. I ordered it with moderate expectations (since the iPhone/Touch was a terrible PDF reader), and I am actually OVERJOYED with the iPad and the GoodReader app. It is exactly what I need for reading my huge library of PDF digital books. I'm not sure what the other commenter meant about the iPad not being designed for extended reading. That is exactly what I am using it for, and the ability to resize the page display to any enlargement is really crucial for the odd book sizes and typography found in early printed books. Admittedly, these are not the typical books that people want to read - but the iPad is perfect for reading these early printed books in a way that the Kindle simply was not. I now have stored on my iPad a library of several hundred Renaissance and Baroque books that, just 10 years ago, I would have had to travel to Europe to look at - now I can read them on my back porch while enjoying a margarita. These are good times to be studying Renaissance literature! :-)
April 12, 2010 3:21 PM

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