A Reader’s iPad, Part Two

I’ve been reading on the iPad for almost a month now. Here are some more things I’ve noticed, in no particular order.

I’m reading a lot more non-fiction. I really enjoy marking up my virtual books, which is something I won’t do with physical ones – mostly because of the pain in the ass factor. It’s also intensely satisfying to know that my thoughts and insights will remain accessible to me after I close the book. I feel much more like I’m part of a conversation with non-fiction books now; they’ve become as alive to me as fiction always has been.

I’ve always been someone who prefers to read one book at a time, but I’ve made a mental exception for academic reading. Pre-iPad, I might read five or six fiction books while slowly working through something dissertation-relevant. I’m now much less willing to switch back and forth between academic and non-academic reading. The Sociological Imagination hung me up for almost a week – the longest I’ve gone in years without starting a new book! Unfortunately, a week without fiction makes me very cranky, so I think I’m going to have to get past my one-book-at-a-time hangup. Any ideas?

I cannot be trusted at the Kindle store. What, you mean I can have this book right now? I’ve been especially bad about buying the Kindle versions of books that are still out in hardcover. I don’t buy hardcovers, so it’s a delight to get these books months before I might otherwise have read them!

I’d really like to see more collection / curation services become available. For example, I would pay good money to buy a “Nebula Nominees” package. I value the convenience of not having to hunt down each book separately, and also the creation of an ad-hoc anthology for the short stories and novellas. Similarly, I’d totally subscribe to my favorite series and have the new releases automatically download to my device when they come out.

I’m using Kindle as my primary reading app because of its annotation system, as described in my previous post. I like the way iBooks lets you import any PDF, and Powell’s ebooks aren’t Kindle-compatible, and I love Stanza’s book-organizing features, but I’m not willing to spread my reading across multiple apps. I never want to have to ask myself, “Wait, what format do I have that in?” As long as Kindle’s got web-based annotation syncing, I’m tied to them. Unless someone knows of an app that lets me aggregate my books across services, and opens the correct app to read each one?

I was really excited to learn that I can lend Kindle books. Then I realized I can only lend each book once, ever. Not once-at-a-time. Not once per friend. Once. Ever. Period. I find this profoundly upsetting. All of a sudden, my decision about lending a book becomes incredibly fraught.  I have to decide whether this person is the best person I could ever lend this book to, since I never get another chance. And if it’s not a good time for them to read it, my one-use lending privilege went to waste! I understand that Amazon wants to avoid people replacing buying with lending, but there are other ways to do that. For example, maybe you have to go through a complex authorization sequence to reactivate your lending rights. I don’t mind inconvenience, but the current setup raises the mental costs of lending way too high.

I still haven’t found a way to dock the iPad near my bed, but I’ve got a great low-tech workaround: my partner goes to sleep later than I do, so he docks it for me. Yes, ladies and gents, that’s love.

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