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Reading Books on iPad Versus Kindle

by on April 8th, 2010

I’ve used a Kindle for over a year. Recently, waiting for an interminable car repair, I had an opportunity to spend several hours reading a book on my iPad. Night versus day!

I had always loved my Kindle, and have spent many pleasurable hours with it, despite its idiosyncrasies and vexations. I assumed all ebook readers would behave similarly, and just sucked it up.

Chief among Kindle’s idiosyncrasies are the bizarre “location numbers” in place of page numbers. I know, of course, that Kindle page idrntifiers can’t correspond to the page numbers in the actual book (smaller screen, variable typeface, font size, etc.), but why must they be weird and incomprehensible?

My second complaint is more subtle, but equally annoying: Kindle doesn’t tell you how far along you are in the chapter, and more specifically, how far you are from the end of the current chapter. When I return to reading, I often find that there is only one paragraph, or one page, or even just one sentence left in that chapter, which, had I known, I likely would have finished before setting the Kindle aside.

The iBook reader does away with both these annoyances. Page numbers are—well, page numbers. They don’t correspond to the numbers in the physical book (for all the same reasons), and they do change if you change the font size, as will the total number of pages in the book. However, once you have decided on the most comfortable typeface and font size for that particular book, you’ll have common-sense page numbers for easy reference thereafter.

And along the bottom of every page is a notation telling you how many pages are left in that chapter and, like the Kindle, how far along you are in the book.

I also like the iBook’s two-page layout in landscape, and being able to turn pages in either direction by swiping–nostalgia, perhaps, for the graceful swipe of traditional page turning. I didn’t find the additional weight of the iBook to be a problem, but I was seated throughout. Your posture may differ.

John Southin is a retired professor (Biology, McGill) now living in Eastern Ontario. @jlsouthin

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Posted under: iBookStore