iPads and Charity Shops

I am stood in the white, angular confines of Manchester’s Apple store, an iPad in my hands for the very first time. I’ve spent twenty minutes with Apple’s latest creation and have found it, in many ways, to be electrifying. Already I have used it to surf the web, watch a video, and now I am playing a game in which I steer a rally car through forests by simply tilting the device. I am absorbed, child-like in my wonder.

Alas, my first experience with the iPad as an e-reader would later leave me unexcited and cold. Reflections bounce from the rich, glossy screen, and the page-turning animation becomes old quickly. My arms soon begin to ache from holding it. I’m thinking too much about leaving fingerprints on that pristine surface.

I have toyed with the idea of shifting to e-books for good; the benefits seem obvious, after all. I was hoping the iPad would be the device that held my hand in this brave new world, yet I can sincerely say I found reading (using Amazon’s iPad-optimised Kindle app) on the iPad’s screen to be actually unpleasant. If Apple can’t draw me in – I found Amazon’s Kindle easier on the eyes, though still less compelling than a real book – who can?

Perhaps I have reached that stage in my life where I’m destined to remain a fuddy-duddy Luddite for good. But is it so bad to prefer the sensory, pulpy pleasures a real book can offer? The smell of the glue that binds the book, the rigid spine of a new purchase, simply being able to thumb pages: books delight too many of my senses to be casually cast aside. They are a tactile joy that I don’t wish to abandon.

I’m being unrealistic, however. I am reasonably confident that its sheer reach could see the iPad redefine the e-book space in the near future, and I know it’s something that is always on our minds at Honest Publishing. Yet for me personally, it’s back to rummaging through charity shops for the words and stories that inspire me.

Chris Greenhough

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