Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
E-reading is one of the cornerstones of the iPad, and iBooks handles that pressure with style. This beautifully designed app is a pleasure to use on almost every level, and it quickly earned a starring role in our dock.
From the moment iBooks launches, its rich presentation captures you. The lovely wooden bookshelf contains one book, Winnie-the-Pooh, to get you started, so your first stop will likely be iBookstore to snag some paid or free e-books. Tapping the Store button essentially opens up a tunnel into iTunes, which you can only access from your iPad—it’s weird (and a bit lame) that you can’t shop for e-books from iTunes on your Mac.
As you start browsing, you’ll find a fairly respectable selection of bestsellers and famous authors, but if your taste is even slightly off the beaten path, it won’t take long for you to find holes you could drive a monster truck through. Still, it’s just as easy to find something you want to read--even if it’s just checking out a free sample version, which duplicates the whole “read a few pages at the bookstore” thing by giving you anywhere from a handful of pages to a chapter or two to help you decide.
Unfortunately, my second purchase (Charles Stross’s Saturn’s Children) was a buggy disaster—the whole book was jammed into 28 dense pages with no spaces. Fortunately, everything else I devoured, even the free version of Art of War, was formatted just fine, so it’s probably an isolated hiccup. (That didn’t stop me from requesting a refund from Apple Support.) On a brighter note, it’s easy as pie to drop EPUB-format e-books into your iPad: just plop the file into the Library area of iTunes, sync, and start reading. (To stock up on EPB books, including loads of freebies, check out our how-to.)
Once you tuck into some serious reading, iBooks really flexes its muscles. The page-turning animation is incredibly book-like, and that makes reading e-books feel instantly natural. We also loved how the it rearranges so smoothly between the larger one-page portrait orientation and the smaller two-page landscape spread. If you somehow tire of swiping to turn pages, you can also just tap the left or right side of the screen to page backward or forward.
Tapping away from the edges brings up (or removes) the HUD, which grants you access to bookmarks, highlighting (select “bookmark” on the pop-up to highlight text—a little counter intuitive, to put it mildly), search, dictionary lookup, fonts, type size, brightness, the table of contents, and scrollbar for the entire book. The dictionary and search are particularly rad, popping up right over the page, though it’s a shame that the built-in Google and Wiki searches dump you out to Safari instead of starting up in-app.
We also were briefly annoyed that you can’t arrange books on the shelf with gaps to create your own groupings (like a kids’ shelf, a sci-fi shelf, and so on). Instead, iBooks forces any gap to filled, which is downright unnecessary. (Okay, yeah, +10 OCD, I know…but still!)
The iPad’s gorgeous color screen is probably our favorite part of reading iBooks. Despite pre-launch fears to the contrary, eye strain was never an issue, and we particularly appreciate being able to read in bed with the lights off—a marriage-saver if you sleep with someone who’s not a fan of your bedside lamp.
We did struggle with reading outside in bright sunlight, though—it could be done, but it was too squinty to be a pleasant experience. The Kindle and other e-ink readers win that battle, but the iPad and iBooks win the war—between the bright color screen, the real-time page-turning, and the terrific page-turning animations, it was a more than fair trade.
This app will change how I read books—and that’s coming from a guy who got his first job in high school to fund his book-a-day habit. These days, I literally have thousands of books in my house, and my wife is turning cartwheels at the thought that my iPad might be where the newcomers are stored.
So am I. iBooks is that good, and this app is one of the core reasons I’m convinced that Apple has created the first device that could realistically replace paper as the main medium for consuming the printed word.