When Amazon first released the Kindle late in 2007, it was supposed to save the publishing industry by having us all reading everything from periodicals to textbooks on them. Â A few years later, that claim was made for the iPad.
Instead of physically delivering information on paper, these and the many other “coming soon” tablet devices would provide the material, with enhancements, in an easily distributed digital format.
Of course, I’ve been around long enough to remember when similar statements were made for laptops and before them personal computers. Anyone remember the paperless office? Anyone work in one?
While it certainly hasn’t yet replaced paper in my life*, I’ve been making a concerted effort to read more material on my iPad since it arrived six months ago.
That effort would be going much better if it wasn’t for a few obstacles placed in the way by someone. Apple? The app makers? Publishers?
The two most visible reading apps are Apple’s iBook and Amazon’s Kindle, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve only paid for a couple of ebooks due to the rather obstructionist DRM attached to most files.
Another annoying functionality road block is that neither app will allow me to copy a selection of text and paste it into an email or blog post, again limiting the usefulness of the format.
Sure, I can’t do copy and paste with an analog publication either, but wasn’t switching to a digital format supposed to make the material more useful than paper could? I seem to remember some visionary making that promise.
Anyway, if I had to make a choice between the two, iBook is the better reading app, both in terms of it’s features and the fact that it’s possible to add material other than what you buy from the attached store, a feature that’s not easily available with the Kindle app.
If you’re buying books, on the other hand, Kindle has the advantage since their store features a much bigger selection, slightly lower prices, and the ability to sync your digital files on multiple instances of the app (computer, phone, iPad, Kindle).
However, the reading app I use most often, and the one with the best overall functionality, is GoodReader.
Although sold (it’s only 99 cents) as a pdf reader, this app is a whole lot more.Â I get way too much stuff as Word documents and GoodReader will let me view (but not edit) them as well, generally doing a great job of retaining the original format.
ï»¿The app also makes it very easy to copy materials from any computer over a wifi connection, download directly from web URLs, and get files from online storage services like Dropbox or Apple’s Mobile Me.
And the best will be getting better since the GoodReader developers say that they will be adding pdf annotations in the next version.
As to the growing collection of other iPad newspaper/magazine replacements, I’ve found very few worth raving about.
LikeÂ Flipboard, the most recent hot app. Very pretty, very slick, not especially useful.
*ï»¿For some reason, there seems to be more paper, not less, although that might be due to heightened awareness of how much stuff is needlessly printed.