iPad anyone? I still like Kindle (for iPhone Mind You)

Casey McKinney


For those of you doubting the iPad, who say it’s just a big iPhone or an Apple Kindle – Jimmy Chen, at htmlgiant, I am thinking of you on the Kindle criticism, which I couldn’t agree with more. That horribly designed thing, with its non-backlit gray screen reminds me of playing Oregon Trail on the first PC I ever used back in fourth grade.

Well Hmmm, wanted to show an example but this picture has color, maybe that’s an advanced version of the game or our monitors were in black and… oh wait, it was green and black. Those binary colored screens.

Lately I have been trying to find ways of reading while my hands are tied. Books, even as crafty as you can be with them (NY Subway riders take pride) usually take 2 hands now and then (can flip pages with your mouth but that gets old, even nasty at times), and with my wife breastfeeding our 6 week old…it’s hard to read books when you have a baby on your stomach, trying to keep him calm and entertained/engaged (been trying to teach him to count with his hands, it’s subconscious at this age) in between feedings and diaper changes. So lately I have resorted to getting much of my book time in on my iPhone. I’m either downloading audiobooks and listening to them, though that takes a lot of stopping and rewinding when you don’t have full attention to give.  But I also remembered that I have a downloaded Kindle app for iPhone, which, as opposed to the Amazon version, is a helluva deal (free on the iPhone…and whoah, $249 freaking dollars for the Amazon physical version?

Again, aesthetically, the $249 Amazon Kindle (pictured right) looks like an accessory Lucas people would have made for Stormtroopers back in the 70’s. But the big problem is not aesthetics, it’s the functionality of the design. Which the app version overcomes. I’ve loaded up my iPhone Kindle app with tons of free to almost free classics and other books I figure I’d like to have handy the next time I get dropped off somewhere like a deer stand on a cold dark morning and (look I’ll skip the politics of that but) would rather pass the time reading something than straining my eyes in the mist looking for horn points before the sun is officially up to shoot something.

Which brings me to my point. The cool thing about reading on the iPhone Kindle app is you can do it one handed, in complete darkness; it even saves your place for you when you have to hop up and change a diaper or shoot a deer or something (my Vegan friends bear with me). Which is very handy. And with the small format on the phone you are less likely to get distracted (you can’t see other apps when this one is open)…so you just read on, flip the pages with a touch of the right side of the screen.

Now I’ve been savoring new ones and rereading books like Moby Dick, Infinite Jest, Ulysses; and even Ugly Man by Dennis Cooper, The Quorum by Joshua Cohen, and Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas have their Kindle versions. And I have to say, the more intense the writing the better it is for this format. Okay you lose some of the fancy layout formatting that comes in some postmodern writing, but you can concentrate better on little chunks of words, the poetry of the language so much better this way… I used to love to read by candlelight in Tulum, Mexico in a cabana with no electricity. Your soul sort of falls into the book. It’s magical.

And I swear I’ve felt a similar thing trying to stay quiet as my son sleeps on my my chest and my wife gets her winks in and I stay up all night reading David Foster Wallce in complete darkness ‘cept for the words glowing on my phone.

Now I’ve ordered the iPad (I’m a sucker for all things Apple) and I’ll tell you the reasons why. A) I’ve been waiting for a way to get wireless (not just wifi) 3G coverage for a Mac computer for forever and nothing has seemed to work quite right. They say they might switch to Verizon soon and I am imagining they will as you don’t have to sign up for a long term data contract for the iPad 3G. So I figure, here’s the solution on that. Can finally go out to my dad’s place on the lake in Alabama and edit a Fanzine thing if I want (wait a sec…okay hopefully I won’t be able to, but if I HAD TO…). B) People keep saying this is like a big iPhone, but they haven’t realized what apps with touch capabilities can accomplish on a larger screen. All those neat instrument apps the iPhone has? the mini grand piano, the guitar, the dj mixers, that Brian Eno thing?  Well you’re gonna get as I mentioned before an actual usable backlit e’reader with huge words that can be read in bed without waking up your lover, or whoever, and a few hundred instruments in hand, that can be played, beat on, swiped, etc, so you can wake that person up when you want.

And…I could keep on about games and streaming TV and whatnot and that’s what makes me nervous about getting one. I’ve finally gotten used to the simplicity and non distraction of the Kindle App for iPhone, and suddenly I’m gonna have this helluva e’reader with a helluva lot of distractions. Plus IT’LL TAKE 2 HANDS TO OPERATE! And remember, the nice things about a laptop is…. you can CLOSE IT. An iPhone, you can put it in your pocket. But this?…well we’ll see it’s overall value soon enough (mine ships by May).

One thing I am betting on for sure is the iPad will be much better at extracting money from you than the iBook or iPhone combined. But I imagine you’ll be buying more books than Britney Spears on this etablet. Will it save the publishing industry? I’m not gonna go there (print, like Vinyl records, is undergoing its own kind of renaissance now), but I don’t think it’ll hurt writing, writers and readers one bit, but just the opposite; I’m calling a boon.

Still, weird as I am, I might miss reading on the phone -CM


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