Since founding namelos, my print-on-demand andebook-based publishing house, I have been accused of having an unnaturalattachment to hardware and all things digital. However, in spite of what somepeople are saying, I was more excitedabout the birth of my children than the arrival of my iPad. But the kids aregrown up now and... well, maybe I'm not. Be that as it may, the iPad is a thingof beauty and a wonder to behold. It arrived in typically stylish andminimalist Apple packaging and I had it opened and operating within minutes.
The screen is the sharpest, clearest, mostluminous screen I've ever seen on a device. The touch interface is intuitive(it helps if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch because it's the same OS). I gotright down to business, loading the iBook app (Apple's new ebookstore) and theKindle app. I also loaded the Barnes & Noble ereader app but it hasn't yetbeen optimized for the iPad. I was immediately able to access my entire Amazonarchive and was reading the book I'd just put down (on a Kindle DX), synced tothe page I was on, in under a minute. The app allows you to adjust the size oftype, the brightness of backlight, and the color of the background (I chose"sepia"). I have read several books since then and I have yet to pick up myKindle 2, Kindle DX, nook, or Sony Reader again.
In addition to transferring all the books (336)on my Kindle to the iPad, I downloaded some apps that take advantage of theiPad's color screen, including several picture book apps-Cat in the Hat and Dr.Seuss's ABC (Oceanhouse Media), TheSurprise by Sylvia van Ommen (Winger Chariot), I Can Do It Too by Karen Baicker, pictures by Ken Wilson-Max (PicPocket Books)-and the now classic Cathy'sBook, originally published in 2006 as an ARG (alternate reality game) bookfor young adults. It's telling to me that the iBook store came pre-loadedwith only one title: Winnie-the-Pooh.
After dinner on Easter I settled down in myreading chair with my five-year-old granddaughter, Belle, in my lap to see whatwe could see. The Dr. Seuss books are the best of kind. In a fashionreminiscent of the old Weston Woods filmstrips, the conversion involves nothingmore elaborate than panning in and out and cropping the original images; i.e.,there is no animation. An appealing sound track is added, with options to readthe story yourself, have it read to you, or play automatically. By touchingimages on the page, words jump up and are spoken. Belle played the images likea drum, somewhat diminishing the flow of the story, but she was having a goodtime.
I Can Do It Too is gorgeous on the iPadscreen: the artist's palette is lustrous. The interface is even simpler, withalmost no bells and whistles, but a straightforward presentation of the book.Belle quietly listened and flicked the pages.
The Surprise is the simplest of all;it is wordless and the only sound is of the scooter ridden by the sheep in transitionalpictures. Belle really liked the scooter.
Belle was mostly quiet while we perused thesebooks. She instantly figured out how to turn pages and otherwise interact withthe touch screen. She would play away when she discovered a new feature, butonce she'd explored that she mostly just listened. I showed her Cathy's Book but it is clearly meant forolder kids and we didn't stick with it.
For those who can't imagine sitting down with achild in their lap reading on a screen, listen to this. The last book we lookedat was Winnie-the-Pooh, which portsbeautifully over to the iPad screen. In the horizontal mode the book is laidout in spreads and the full-color Sheppard illustrations are as gorgeous asever. I read Belle a few pages and then asked her what she wanted to do next.She said, simply, "Read."