I have already posted my review of the iPad this week and I wanted to come back and hit some of the specific features the device offers on their own. One of the most important features of the iPad is its ability to act as an eBook reader. Dedicated eBook readers like the Kindle and the Nook are cool and don’t cost that much less than the iPad. The big difference is the vast amount t of other features that the iPad offers that other eReaders lack.
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To be able to get books on your iPad you have to download the free iBooks app. Once you download the app, you can then enter your iTunes password and peruse the huge number of listing for books in the iTunes catalog. I found all sorts of content that I wanted to read there. I was concerned that the less mainstream sci-fi genre that I prefer would be scant. There aren’t that many offerings in the genre, but the ones that are there are from good writers.
One thing I really like about how Apple executes the bookstore in iTunes is that you can download free previews of books to your device. The preview is the first few chapters of the book. This gives you a much better idea of what the book is like than reading the back cover in a real bookstore. The downside is that you can’t read anything about some titles before you download the sample. It also bothers me that each time you start a download of a book or an app that the device kicks you back to the iPad desktop. If I am looking at several titles, it is a pain to go back in each time you start a download.
The sample books I downloaded took only a few minutes to grab. That speed will vary depending on your personal connection online. Once the samples download, you can start to read them. When you hold the iPad in landscape mode, you get two side-by-side pages on the iPad screen. Hold the device in portrait mode and you get a single larger page on the screen. You turn pages by flicking them left or right.
The iPad has full controls for bookmarking a page, searching the book, going back to the table of contents, buying samples, changing font sizes, and you can choose from several different fonts. The fonts themselves are a little less sharp than some of the e-ink screen eReaders I have tried, but the iPad is perfectly legible.
I really like the bookmark feature. Once you start reading a book you highlight the last word you read and bookmark the page. The next time you come to read the book it takes you directly to that page when you clock the book on your iBooks bookshelf. I also like that if you want to jump to the table of contents you can do so from any page and then go right back to where you were reading.
A series of dots at the bottom of each screen shows you how many pages are left in the chapter you are reading and the page numbers on the bottom of the screen tell you what page you are on out of the number in the chapter. You can remove books from your iBook shelves by hitting the edit button and then clicking the X on the book icon. Books are about the same price on the iTunes bookstore as you can get them for in print.
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The price of many of the books bothers me, it is cheaper for the publisher to create and distribute eBooks so they should be much cheaper, but they aren’t. The upside is that voracious readers will not have to travel to the bookstore when they want a new book. The iPad also has excellent battery life. You can read for hours and hours on a single charge. The iPad makes a fantastic eBook reader and the feature alone will justify the price for many users.
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