Posted By Carlo on September 19, 2010
I haven’t read every word in J.D. Biersdorfer’s “iPad: The Missing Manual,” but I’ve read enough to know that a) I want an iPad more than I did before dipping into this; b) I could get around an iPad; and c) I understand the usefulness of an iPad and how its utility differs from other Apple devices.
Biersdorfer, who writes a tech column for the New York Times, also has written books on the iPod and the iPod Shuffle. She knows her way around Apple and clearly likes its products. Her 300-page book is chockfull of tips on how to incorporate applications into the iPad, the joys of reading on the iPad (if you buy one now, you can enjoy various newspapers for free, newspapers that are likely to charge for their content very shortly).
I was particularly interested in the section on iBooks, Apple’s iPad-exclusive book downloading software. I’ve seen an iBook and, while I now own a first-generation Kindle, I suspect I’ll offload that in favor of an iPad soon; I just have to decide whether to buy a Wi-Fi iPad (a mere $499) or the 3G model, which requires a plan and costs $629 up front. While Biersdorfer rightfully celebrates the look of a book on an iPad, she wrongfully denigrates traditional books: “Of course, reading an iBook isn’t the same as cracking open the spine of a leather-bound volume and relaxing in an English club chair with a snifter of brandy by the fire,” she writes on page 130. “But really—who reads books that way anymore (except for the impossibly wealthy and characters on Masterpiece Mystery)? Aside from visiting a bookstore or library, reading books in the 21st century can involve anything from squinting through Boswell’s Life of Johnson on a mobile phone to gobbling down the latest Danielle Steel romantic epic on the oversized Kindle DX e-reader.”
Biersdorfer convinces us in her exhaustive guide to the iPad how cool it is, but she should have parked the snark in her driveway. Those of us who still read books one has to hold—those quaint, weighty, tactile print memorabilia—like them at least as much as the hottest new Apple product.