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If I had an iPad I might consider it to see if I can read on that, but I've found that I only ever read books when printed on the pulped, mangled, processed bodies of brutally murdered trees.

From what I've seen, O'Reilly material works well on iPad. I have a subscription to Safari Library, and have tried using it three ways on my iPad.

1. For those books that support the HTML view, I've read them in the browser from the Safari Library web site. These have been excellent, including diagrams and code snippets. One or two books have had slight formatting problems (a line of example code not wrapping).

2. For books that don't support the HTML view, or books that I've downloaded as PDFs (part of the my subscription is a certain number of "download tokens" that can be redeemed to download chapters or whole books), I've read then in GoodReader. This has worked out fine.

3. Finally, they offer some books for download in EPub format. I've tried those in iBooks, and they've been good. I've also used the free program Calibre to convert some of the PDFs I downloaded to EPub and they have worked fine.

I am quite pleased with the combination of O'Reilly Safari Library and my iPad.

Oh, they've also announced that this summer there will be a Safari Library iPad application. That should be interesting.

Why would an iPad help? It still has the eyeball-melting backlight, and it has a glossy screen, so you have to read through a reflection.

There's a reason why people like e-ink-based ebook readers so much. They may not have games, but they are really good for reading ebooks. (Though I admit that the normal Kindle is not so great for books that have diagrams.)

Goodreader (plus a couple other pdf apps) can darken the screen so it's almost like glossy paper


I have a Kindle DX. Love it for reading research PDFs from start to finish.

I had also figured it would be fantastic to shrink the shelf space for tech books, and always have those books at hand. Big downside that doesn't hit you till you try to use it for this purpose: the e-ink can't page flip fast enough to be useful.

Readers on the iPad (iBooks, even Kindle app) don't have this issue.

I'm not sure I follow. But what I have learned from reading HN is that I am probably the only person in the world that reads each page of a book in order. I start with the first page. When I'm done reading that page, I read the second page. Induct on n.

I read all books in order as well.

I prefer e-readers (Sony Reader, Kindle DX, iPad) because I read at the speed of about one airport novel per hour, meaning I need five books for a cross country flight. It's easier to carry these electronically, and I keep a backlog of 50 - 70 books available to read.

For computer books, such as the jQuery Cookbook I purchased yesterday from O'Reilly in this sale, I will also read each one from cover to cover. With that reading I form a visual spatial memory of where in the book I can find any information I need.

My memory is not eidetic. I can't read the actual words, and I don't remember every page number. But I do know about how deep in the book, left or right page, and where on the page to look, so I can usually find a needed reference within a half dozen page turns.

With e-readers, this is fuzzier. The "where in the book" depends on the progress bar, and there's no left or right to halve the search, so takes at least 10 - 20 page turns instead. These page turns are SLOOOOOW.

On the iPad, page turns are many times faster. So, finding reference material in a thick reference book that I cognitively mapped on the iPad is commensurately faster.

This might be my favorite comment of yours.

I usually trip up on the "induct on n" part. Fortunately, I start enough books that I still finish a few each year.

    I usually trip up on the "induct on n" part.
I sometimes get "out of memory" errors; restarting sometimes help.

I have read more than 3000 screens (pages?) on my iPad so far and my eyeballs have not melted yet. I think it is quite a personal thing whether you like using an iPad for reading a lot of material or not.

I find it a lot easier on my eyes than my Macbook Air, for reading, not sure why. But there it is.

I find it a lot easier on my eyes than my Macbook Air, for reading, not sure why. But there it is.

Could it be because you spent $500 on it for the purpose of reading books, and your mind won't let you think negative thoughts about the experience?

I had a pair of pants like this. They were the wrong size, uncomfortable, and ugly. But I wore them anyway because it was too late to return them, and I spent $75 on them that I could never get back. So I just learned to like them, even though they were fundamentally flawed.

No. I am certain that isn't it. As I did get it for free. I don't really think the iPad is the Jesus tablet, but I certainly would spend $500 on another one if I lost this one, to read books on it.

Especially for technical books where I end up flipping around pages back and forth something that the computer probably will never be able to model intuitively.

Though I must say I like my kindle enough that it is readable for normal books.

But there is just something about paper :)

Yes, if only such technology existed where you could swap between two bookmarks with a keypress. Or where you could jump to a particular page by just typing in a number.

There are some distinct and useful qualities to the older, physical media.

[Disclosure: The below is an old HN post I made.]

The Social Life of Paper (2002) (newyorker.com)


P.S. I also subscribe to Safari. It's nice not to lug a bunch of books around, but the reading experience I do find different between the two media.

In general I agree, but pocket-reference e-books on your mobile shouldn't be scoffed at.

Exactly. If you're an on-the-move consultant who works with a bunch of different technologies, the last thing you want is more stuff to carry.

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