Apple iPad: E-Book Reading, Kindle-Killing, Business-Saving Product of the Century?

by Joel Friedlander on January 28, 2010 · 77 comments

I have to say that watching today’s launch by Apple of the new iPad was quite entertaining.

I picked Gizmodo which had a team of four or five people live blogging from the hall and taking photos of the visuals Steve Jobs was using in his presentation. You really have to admire not only the showmanship of these launches, but the way Apple has the whole package thought out before they go public.

As you might have expected, the iPad is sexy, hip, fast, gorgeous, and possibly game-changing in the way the iPod and iTunes store changed the music business.

But rather than dive into the “gee-whiz” technology that will be the latest and greatest thing for the next few months (my iPhone 3GS suddenly looks like the second coolest hardware now), I wanted to take a look at the ebook reading software, at least in this early release.

Fonts and “Typesetting”

Apple iPad

Font menu - Click to enlarge

Here’s a photo that came out of the launch that shows the font menu in the e-reader program. It’s interesting on a few levels.

First, note the fonts included here. We don’t know how the iPad will deal with fonts embedded in the ePub files it will use for books, but other readers using ePub often ignore the fonts embedded in the files, from what I understand. The fonts on this menu are an odd lot:

  1. Baskerville—a good long document font, widely used today.
  2. Cochin—a lovely display font that would be very hard to read in text for long.
  3. Palatino—a beautiful oldstyle text font utterly ruined by the overexposure of being included in every single “desktop publishing” program, font list and operating system starting 25 years ago.
  4. Times Roman—a wonderful font for newspapers and office reports.
  5. Verdana—a san-serif font specifically designed for display on screens, used widely online.

But look at the piece of a page you can see behind the font menu. You’ll see big “rivers” of blank paper running through the type. Apparently, the miraculous iPad doesn’t hyphenate or justify text any better than the existing e-readers, that is to say, quite poorly. No real typesetter could have produced copy this bad, because they would have been fired long ago.

It’s Almost Like Reality TV

It’s also interesting that the designers at Apple have taken the idea of making the expeirience “book-like” to an entirely new level. They’ve put a “book cover with a book jacket” behind the “book” and created very realistic looking “pages” that diminish as you read through the book.

Here’s a 55-second video that gives you more information about the how this e-reader was imagined:

You probably noticed around the 30-second mark the round of applause. It was for the terrific animation of turning “pages.” I laughed so hard when I saw this I almost stained my keyboard. The audience appreciates how skillfully the programmers have imitated an ancient artifact—the printed book—with their code.

Of course, you also noticed that the “back” of all the “pages” are blank, so it’s not all that realistic. You almost have to remind yourself that you are looking at an amazing, digital representation of a real physical object, and not a photo of the object itself. In essence, one reads a picture of a book, not a book itself.

Book Publishing, or Text Publishing, or Media Publishing?

Look, this is an amazing device, and it may well have a huge impact on publishing. We just don’t know yet. The allure of “books” with links to video, maps, sound files, GPS coordinates is strong. One can be absolutely certain we will start seeing products like this for the iPad in the very near future.

The anticipation for this digital switch is palpable. Here’s what Dev Ganesan, President and CEO of Aptara, an e-book conversion and digital publishing company, had to say on the Digital Book World site:

Today’s content consumers are voracious digital omnivores, desiring to feed on all types of electronic content — from Twitter tweets to YouTube videos, from iPhone apps to Facebook updates, from mp3s to eBooks. Yet traditional publishers, particularly trade book publishers, are not prepared to serve digitally savvy audiences the variety of electronic products they demand. That’s because their production processes are traditionally rooted in outdated print publishing practices that are severely inadequate for tackling today’s publishing challenges.

I suppose it was the “outdated print publishing practices” with its lovely alliteration that stopped me. When I finish this article, I will get up from my desk as usual, pick up the copy of The American Book of the Dead that I’m reading, and head for bed for a good read. I’m not sure which part of that scenario is “outdated” but I plan to enjoy myself.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to the interior designs I’m working on for the three books I have in hand at the moment. One is a lovely inspirational photography book, another is a useful self-help book, and the third is a memoir of a Vietnam veteran. Each has a unique and interesting quality, something I hope to evoke with the designs. For better or worse, they will be printed on real paper in fonts that the reader will not be able to switch for Palatino or Cochin. The design will remain an intrinsic part of the book.

We are at a change time in publishing. We can marvel at the transformations happening around us while still appreciating the cultural history that has landed us in this place, at this time.

What do you think of it all?

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    { 48 comments }

    Hamish MacDonald January 28, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Okay, I’ve been thinking about it, so I’ll post about it: this tablet dealio.

    I really don’t get it. I have a computer for creating content; I have an iPhone for keeping in touch and viewing media on the go. The iPad falls into an uncomfortable netherworld in-between that I guess I’m just not the target audience for… And the intended target audience seems to be “people with unlimited amounts of money for constantly buying stuff from Big Media”.

    I used to be one of those awful Apple zealots when I started computing, and I’d honestly never used a Windows machine. Now I’ve been in both camps, and I have to say I do like using Apple devices. They facilitate creative work (like making a podcast) that it had never occurred to me to do before. But ultimately, I all these things are tools; what matters is what you do with them, not which object you’re seen with. (To quote Chuck Palahniuk, “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive…”)

    I’m thrilled to find that, facing the unprecedented nuclear blast of iPad hype, I am unmoved, undesiring. It feels like a spiritual win.

    Seeing books on this thing makes me want to rush home and print out a real book. Confession: When I buy e-books, I often print and bind them. What Apple shows in their demo looks like a document, not a book. (That wide line-spacing, for starters, makes my eyes want to wander elsewhere.)

    I know the traditional publishers are looking at these things with $$s/££s in their eyes, and I don’t wish them any ill. If this is the chemo they need, fine. And if this drives more people to read more (and more diverse) fiction, wonderful!

    (And, phew!, they chose the e-book format I’ve already released my novels in.)

    But the art of making books will not go away, and the hospital-room fluorescence of these ‘pages’ can only underscore the pleasures of real paper and artful typography. I don’t think the demand for your skills will be adversely affected by this development, as it’ll be some time yet before these devices rival the deliberate customisation of a typeset page — if ever they could.

    Howard Jones January 28, 2010 at 5:43 am

    We should distinguish among diverse contexts of information; they are not equivalent.
    Has the movie replaced the book? Has a book replaced the handwritten note? Has the handwritten note replaced a spoken sentiment?

    No. Each provides unique sentient context for interacting, absorbing and even ‘losing oneself in’ intentioned information.

    I think the iPad is game changing (or at least game accelerating, the game being the evolution of human culture) for a construct I have explored for a number of years that I dub a “memecopia” (literally a “profusion of ideas”). A memecopia is a platform for delivering and casually interacting with complex hyperlinked combinations of media to deliver multidimensional plateaus for intellectual and emotional engagement.

    All new media begin by imitating precedent media. Look at the Gutenberg Bible, for instance. It goes to great pains to emulate the products of scriptoria. The first movies simply filmed stage plays. Now, at its debut, the iPad animated page flip simply expresses its infancy as memecopia.

    I salivate at the prospect of conjoining Adobe’s rich media player, Kurzweil’s Blio eReader and my MacBook Pro’s capacity to weld together deliverable excursions through complex inter-associations of media services that may be delivered via an iPad. [ http://www.spotops.net/index.php/component/content/article/22-sentiarity ]

    But from time to time I will still prefer to displace my momentary sense of situation with the incomparable experience of reading a well designed book that opens into a direct engagement with an author’s thought.

    Welcome to the cultural dialog, iPad!

    Joel January 28, 2010 at 11:23 am

    @Howard, thanks very much for stopping by. Yes, the tendency—almost the requirement—of new technology to imitate the old is something I’ve written about here often. And you are right to point out that every delivery system has its place in the grand scheme of things. It’s the real possibility, in these financially strained times, that these types of e-books will actually start to replace the printed book, before the e-book can really provide the same kind of experience, that bothers me. We’ll see. I’m going to look further into your “memecopia” idea—sounds interesting.

    betty ming liu January 28, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Joel, I really enjoyed reading about the iPad from a book designer’s viewpoint. Thanks for the insight. Btw, i just tweeted about your post!

    Joel January 28, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Hi Betty. Yes, the book designer looks at these things differently than the gadget geek, although I seem to have both living inside my brain! Thanks!

    Dick Margulis January 28, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Joel,

    Zapf designed Palatino as a display face. It has been abused as a text face since the first PostScript printers with built-in fonts were introduced in the earliest days of desktop publishing. But as designers, we should know better. In any case, I’d call it a Venetian rather than an oldstyle. Zapf did design a number of text fonts to coordinate with Palatino.

    Regarding the iPad, here’s my take. The Kindle, Nook, and any other e-ink reader suffers from some limitations, in that it doesn’t do a good job with even grayscale images, is incapable, so far, of rendering color, and is unusable for detailed charts, tables, and graphs. The iPad can handle those features, but because it’s a low-res (1024×768), backlit device, it doesn’t make for comfortable reading, even if the problems you identified are fixed. So I think consumers of genre fiction may continue to move away from mass market paperbacks to the Kindle (better ergonomics, more comfortable for sustained reading), while students trying to avoid the high cost of science and technology textbooks may have a friend in the iPad (once the cost comes down).

    There’s room for both, even if they’re anathema to designers.

    For me, I’ll stick with paper, thanks ;-)

    Joel January 28, 2010 at 11:30 am

    @Dick, thanks for that. I guess I’ve been looking at Palatino in text for so long, I missed its origins. We owe a lot of typefaces to the remarkable Hermann Zapf. And I think I’m going to stick to paper also. I do enough reading by necessity on my monitor and on my phone that I don’t look forward to adding another screen to my life when reading for pleasure.

    Mark Barrett January 28, 2010 at 10:40 am

    “You probably noticed around the 30-second mark the round of applause. It was for the terrific animation of turning “pages.” I laughed so hard when I saw this I almost stained my keyboard. The audience appreciates how skillfully the programmers have imitated an ancient artifact—the printed book—with their code.”

    I caught the exact same moment and had the exact same reaction. Given my interactive background what that moment said to me is that the Apple acolytes are as easily deceived by eye candy as are gamers. To be clear, pretty graphics do sell: they just don’t equal the great games that sell so much more.

    I go back to what I first said about e-readers: they have to be as easy, clean and clear to read as a book, or they’re not going to replace the book in most people’s lives. Screen resolution, font display, clarity, lighting — they’re all 10x more important than any feature on the iPad in terms of e-reader utility and market dominance.

    I’m sure the iPad will sell in the same way that the iBolt would sell and the iNut would sell, and the iStraw for the iDrink would sell, sell, sell. But having a loyal and willing market for your products and your product hype doesn’t mean your product was designed well. The iPad is a multi-tool, positioned between the iPhone and the Netbook in price and functionality, with no clear driving need or excellence. It also does not make a readily-digestible product format (the MP3) easily available to consumers, as the iPod did. A text file is still a text file, and not easily digested with the help of the right machine.

    That Steve Jobs did such a good job selling magic to people who already believe in magic also strikes me as less impressive than it might be from inside the mind of a true believer. He’s certainly got people dazzled.

    Joel January 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

    @Mark, I think “dazzled” is exactly the right word here. The iPod rescued an industry that was spiralling out of control, and did it in a clean, logical and elegant way. I’m not sure there’s any similar force working for the iPad. It’s pretty hard to pirate a printed book, although I guess you could steal a copy, but then you would only have the one copy. No, I think Apple is shrewdly attempting to create this demand, riding on their recent successes, and looking at a way to steal the market from Kindle.

    That being said, the Kindle (which as of yesterday looks awfully 1950-ish) is still a better pure reading experience. Every book designer I’ve talked to about this prefers PDF which embodies their design and cannot be easily changed. But that doesn’t seem to be where the e-readers are going.

    It’s also kind of amusing that hardware manufacturers have been trying, with absolutely no success, to introduce some kind of “tablet” computer for over 10 years. My question, watching the launch and the demo videos that followed, was not about the technology. How do you carry the thing? One of the reasons I really like my iPhone is its portability. It replaced my old phone with no additional overhead, and yet expanded what I could do with a “pocket” device in many amazing ways.

    My ideal “iPad” would be the size of the iPhone, but incorporate a fold-out or roll-out flexible screen that would snap into a rigid position when you wanted to use it, and stow away when you don’t. But I’m probably dreaming.

    Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your thoughtful articles.

    Joel January 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

    @Hamish, thanks for your thoughts. Congratulations on escaping from the Apple-lust and finding perspective on the difference between need and want. Of course, Apple does have a way of creating products that people believe they must have, so I do expect this iteration of the tablet to become the first successful one in the long history of failures of this format. And maybe it will do something to help the book biz. But I continue to be dismayed at the lack of progress in displaying typography with any semblance of what we’ve come to expect.

    Dick Margulis January 28, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Joel,

    In your response to Hamish, you say, “But I continue to be dismayed at the lack of progress in displaying typography with any semblance of what we’ve come to expect.”

    I’m not dismayed or even surprised, although I’m frustrated by the low awareness of consumers in this area.

    We’ve lived through a transition from a world in which a punchcutter could shave a millionth of an inch of metal to shape a serif just the way he wanted to a world in which a high-resolution digital typesetter has a resolution of 2,540 dots per inch and an RGB monitor in which black and white has to be approximated and anti-aliased at 120 rectangular pixels per inch. E-paper such as that used in the Kindle has about 600 or so pixels per inch and has problems with contrast.

    Until someone figures out a way to make an affordable consumer device with 2,500 CMYK pixels per inch, type on a screen is going to be fatiguing to read.

    However, I agree with you that introducing automatic on-the-fly H&J and designer-controlled font choices would go a long way toward improving the reader’s experience on a e-book reader.

    Cochin! Sheesh!

    By the way, meant to say earlier: Times, because it is semi-compressed, works on a short measure but not on a long measure. So you’re right that it works best in newspapers (printed on newsprint, from stereotypes, on a web press). But it’s usually a poor choice for business documents, with their wide text columns. On an iPad, Times might actually be a pretty good choice in terms of minimizing those pigeonholes and rivers, depending on the user’s choice of zoom factor. So, while I’m not generally a fan of Times, this may be an application where it makes sense.

    Joel January 28, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    @Dick, yes, that’s a great point about Times, maybe it’s found a place it can shine. I associate it with business reports because that’s almost all you ever see there, and in the tsunami of “e-books” being sold or given away online. It seems to be like IBM once was—nobody ever got fired for using Times Roman.

    Peg January 29, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I love reading on my e-book as I fall asleep at night. And yes, I do miss the Beauty of some of the finer, well designed books — elegant (or different) fonts for chapter headings, pull quotes, illustrations, and refined, attractive page layout. Let’s face it, the e-book reader converts the book’s beauty to a run-of-the-mill look geared for those looking only for content. That’s fine, but I always want the option to have a Real Book in my hands as well.

    Joel January 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    @Peg, that’s a lovely picture, you curled up with your e-book. You know, it’s the reading that’s the important part of all this, and the access we have to the literature or information that appeals to us. Both digital and print have their time and place, but it sure would be nice if we could use some of the accumulated typographic wisdom gained over hundreds of years of presenting long text documents in these new reading devices. That’s what I’m hoping for.

    Peg January 30, 2010 at 9:19 am

    With my weekly email coupon from Borders, I bought a “real” book the other day – A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler, the entertaining and astonishing travels of James Holman, by Jason Roberts. This is a book I want to see on a shelf in my bookcase (not on my Kindle), where I can read it again and again….

    Vincent Guarcello April 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    will the ipad be able to show large print books? If so at what size print?

    Joel April 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Vincent, the book reader on the iPad allows the user to change the font size to make it pretty big. I don’t know exactly how big, but I’m assuming that it would qualify as “large print.” When I have an exact answer I’ll repost it here. Thanks for bringing this up as I’m sure other people have the same question.

    Paula April 13, 2010 at 10:33 am

    i love printed books. i am a voracious reader. i design books. and i really really want an ipad. but i’m waiting. we don’t know what it will do or be. i want this device to deliver typeset books — i want designers to come back into the process of making text readable and to make it pleasurable. do we know yet any stats on the reading experience of kindle, iphone, ipad (not yet on this one).

    the possibilities are so enticing and yet this font list and this article and comments is discouraging at best for my hopes…

    i was seeing the ipad as something like what i’ve heard sports illustrated is working on — graphically designed, options built in for users to change (layout, video, enlarge elements, large type, etc.) but ultimately they can’t change fonts or make the text any size they want.

    i’ll have to follow up on a conversation i had a few years ago with someone doing research into why the online reading experience is so unsatisfying and where we are now compared to then. maybe we should all lobby apple with our typesetting desires.

    Joel April 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Paula, I think many people are perplexed about Apple. For a company with such amazing aesthetics, such high design vision, to almost completely ignore both fonts and typography is a bit of a mystery to me. The 500+ year history of book typography, with all that we’ve learned about how to make long documents readable, is pretty much being tossed aside, and I think culture will be the worse for it. But maybe I’m just being pessimistic!

    David Leader April 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I’ve been looking at some free iPhone books I downloaded and they all use block paragraphs – the HTML default. I noticed the book shown on the iPad at least uses traditional indented paras in its typography. But tell me. Why do you use block paras in your blog? Because you think it aids reading on the screen (really why?) or because you don’t know how to avoid it? If you care about typography you surely care.

    Joel April 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    David, that’s observant. I’m actually a strong proponent of indented paragraphs as opposed to “block” paragraphs with space between them. But I’ve had to adjust my preferences from the world of print to the world of computer screens, and particularly desktop and laptop screens, which are nowhere near as intimate a reading experience as either a printed book, or an ereader. This format seems much easier for most people to read on screen, and it seems appropriate for this form—the blog—which is, after all, not a “long document” form anyway. And yes, I do care. These are the kinds of decisions that keep type designers up at night. Thanks for visiting!

    patricia oreilly May 13, 2010 at 11:36 am

    that’s a brilliant expose of the iPad which is the latest thing. No matter how wonderful it is, I’m not sure it will ever replace the paper book

    Joel Friedlander May 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Patricia, thanks for your comment. It seems now that the iPad is destined for success, since the sales of the device are really taking off. When I saw the acceptance it had received in the market, I knew it would begin to have an influence, probably on all of us, so I have just a few days ago ordered one specifically to write about it here. Stay tuned.

    Marc Scheib June 3, 2010 at 4:45 am

    There is more typography bundled with the iPad than the presentation actually shows. To help Interface-Designers, Art Directors and Software Developers working for the iPad I came up with an App that makes it really easy to explore the Typefaces provided by the iPhone OS: iTalics for iPad. I would be happy if you give it a try and provide some feedback. iTalics is available at the Apple App Store:

    itms://itunes.apple.com/us/app/italics/id366581431?mt=8

    Joel Friedlander June 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Marc,

    Thanks for the great information. I had seen the Font Displayer app after I wrote this, and now I notice there are several (including ITalics) that will do about the same thing—display the fonts available. I did buy ITalics, by the way.

    It’s interesting that not all the fonts in the system are accessible for use, do you know why that is? The entire font implementation in Pages is quite weak, so I’m hoping better applications, that allow more sophisticated manipulation of typographic elements, come along. If you have any info on upcoming releases that put more control in the hands of the user, I’d be very interested.

    Ian Whiteman September 6, 2010 at 6:04 am

    As the ebook mimics the paper book, the paper book uses type which imitates hand drawn letters on vellum and so on. If you go back far enough you have no books at all – just speech. So you could say culture is like a huge battery that is slowly running down and the new innovations just patch up our inadequacies. As I understand it (please correct me if I’m wrong) you can read a pdf of a book on an Ipad in which case what’s the prob? You can maintain the page as designed by the designer with all the fonts and pictures embedded, no? I’m about to buy an Ipad for a multitude of reasons so I hope my pdfs will work.

    Paul Luna from OUP in England said many years ago that computing is like being on an escalator…you have to go where it goes and in publishing and book design how true. Computers are are not just tools in other words.

    Nice to see a site dedicated to this fine art.

    Joel Friedlander September 6, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Hey Ian. Yes, you can view PDFs on the iPad. In fact, the new version of the iBooks app displays PDFs as well as books. It’s now my favorite PDF viewer.

    Vincent September 6, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Does anyone know how large the print can be made?

    Jay Rutherford September 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Vincent asked about maximum type size. It depends on what software you’re using to view documents. My Kindle app will enlarge type in discrete steps to what appears to be around 48 pt. Stanza has a slider which also goes that large. The iBook reader app lets me go up to something like 60 pt on its book side (I don’t have anything on paper at hand to compare sizes, so I’m guessing). Reading PDFs with iBook lets me zoom in pretty much as far as I want, but then pages don’t reflow, so I have to scroll around. If I wanted to create a PDF specifically for reading in iBook, there are absolutely no size limits. I can fill a page with a serif if I want to.

    Christopher Wills January 12, 2011 at 5:53 am

    Interesting and fair article. I like some Apple products (I have an iPod) but I was disappointed in the iPad because it was nothing new. I don’t think the iPad is an electronic book reader because of the screen. One of the traps a lot of ereader technology reviewers fall into is that they concentrate too much on the bells and whistles that technology can provide and they ignore the needs of the majority of the book buying public. I guess that most book sales are novels; and ereaders are designed to allow people to store and read novels; and they are very good at it. I have a Kindle and I really don’t care that I can’t check my emails on it or go online etc; I bought it to read novels with.
    Ereaders are falling in price and they are being bought in their millions by people who read novels because they are perfect for that. Companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Borders are seeing that the majority of novel buying public are turning to ebooks in a big way. Any company that tries to cling on to printed books of any type, will suffer financial problems in the next couple of years because the overheads are too high and it is unlikely the public will support the massive increase in book prices needed for printed books to survive. I think the printed book may become a luxury item in the near future.
    I think Apple tried to steal a march on ereaders by setting up their ibook store but they made a mistake and chose the wrong technology. Ereaders are popular because they fulfil a necessary function; they allow you to carry around a lot of reading material at once and you can read the material anywhere. And do you know what? A lot of ebooks are beginning to appear well under the price of a printed book. Also on an ereader you can get the complete works of Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle amongst others, for free. So my ebook is going to save me a lot of money in the future.
    The iPad has a lot of minuses in these reading functional respects: it is bigger and heavier than ereaders; it uses outdated screen technology not designed for long term viewing; you can’t read it in direct sunlight and it has poor battery life compared to some ereaders which can last up to 2 – 4 weeks of continual use betweeen charges.
    If the iPad is a good pc Tablet it may have a place but it is unlikely to sell as an ereader any more.

    Ian Whiteman January 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I understand why people like the Kindle if you want to just read print. But what about books with colour pictures or illustrations? I also happen to like typography with a small amount of colour which was always an expensive luxury extra for a printed book. I treasure the old books I have with a second spot colour. Whilst I understand the market need for ebooks I can’t help feeling it’s a step backwards into bad typography and a diminished experience. The way a book is designed, its paper, the cover, is part and parcel of the book’s content and vision. Ever tried reading poetry badly typeset on bad paper? The ebook is dumbing down the market, catering for the Ludlum reading trash reading masses. Who has a first edition with an ebook? Seeing all those books on my book shelves speaks of my life and my world and may it live on and may the books be passed on to my children. The alternative is gazing at a screen (until the battery runs out) and a virtual book shelf. Having said all that I still think an improved Ipad will have its uses. Apple (or whoever) should refine its Ipad screen so that even in colour it can be read in daylight. Also I found on first using one that it was clunky. It should be smaller with less frame. Then I might get one – but not just for reading books. At least it will deliver a second colour.

    Leslie March 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Would it have killed Apple to include Minion Pro as a choice? Palatino is so 1970s.

    Joel Friedlander March 18, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I get the feeling that we are still dealing with Steve Jobs’ font choices from the early 1980s.

    Donald Grahame June 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I think the choice of fonts is more to do with the licensing restrictions, and Apple’s recent move away from supporting Flash than Job’s tastes.

    Joel Friedlander June 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Hi Donald. Aren’t these the exact same fonts that Apple began the “desktop publishing” revolution with? If there were not so many free fonts available, it might be licensing. Don’t you think font manufacturers would be deliriously happy to make a deal with Apple to license a few fonts for the iOs?

    Jay Rutherford March 19, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I haven’t seen the new iPad yet. Anyone know whether there are more (or better) fonts installed? I would sure like to be able to install some of the many fonts I’ve purchased over the years (decades, now). But I’m not going to buy a new iPad when my first gen. is only a few months old.

    Joel Friedlander March 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Jay, the new iPad runs on the same iOS operating system as the original iPad (and the iPhone) so the fonts will be the same.

    Jay Rutherford July 3, 2011 at 9:09 am

    The early fonts (built into Laserwriters and delivered with the Mac System) were Avant Garde, Bookman, Century Schoolbook, Courier, Helvetica, Palatino, Symbol, Times, and Zapf Chancery and Zapf Dingbats (if I remember correctly). Actually, this is the set that came with the Laserwriter Plus, and later the IINT. The very first Laserwriters had an even simpler set, just two or three families.

    Joel Friedlander July 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Jay. Interesting that all these years later with the introduction of the iPad we had an even more limited list.

    Jay Rutherford July 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I just counted 111 font cuts on my iPad, including the various “foreign” faces. The early laser printers included only the so-called “LaserWriter 35″ (including the various family cuts). You could of course buy and install additional fonts, but the built-in ones printed quite a bit faster.

    Joel Friedlander July 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Yes, the problem is that although there are many fonts on the iPad quite a few applications (like iBooks) restrict which fonts the user has access to. Odd but true. Thanks for the additional info.

    MyName July 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I’m glad to say I waited for an iPad 2 to come out which meant having a larger support available than would have been last year. It’s much more usable than I expected and it’s freed me from having to sit at my computer for a number of tasks. Especially web browsing.

    There are a few things that come to mind as far as the original topic goes. First, as someone pointed out on the web, it seems that ebook readers are geared more towards the text centric works and the current standard isn’t able to replace the coffee table type of book (or the National Geographic type of magazine) just yet.

    PDFs can replace them up to a point, but the screen isn’t a good size for many of those books. I think the plan is that, since the ePub standard is basically a wrapper around XHTML, simply wait for HTML 5 to come out with its improved layout tools and then incorporate that into the next generation of ebooks.

    To put it simply, I think the iPad has a good niche as a way to replace the paperback and the store itself is probably a bigger achievement than the reader as it’s very easy to get new books. It’s also replaced a lot of the more formal tech documentation. And it plays videos and sings and dances and all that jazz.

    chairman bill November 8, 2011 at 3:04 am

    I have dyslexia, and I’m an academic; not an overly happy combination. I struggle with papers & other texts, written in serif fonts & justified across the page (introduces anomalous spacing, making it harder to read). Devices such as the iPad have the potential to change this situation, by allowing the reader to choose the font style, choose the font colour, align text left, change the background colour, and so on. Unfortunately, this seems to be a potential so far unrealised. The iPad could be a real game-changer for people with dyslexia.

    Sandy Jones February 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Joel…I totally agree with you…My generation grew up with real books that you could touch and take to bed and read as you fell asleep. I think the world is going too fast and missing the experience of actually reading a real book. You can see it with the kids nowadays…they are on information overload being bombarded with technology at every turn. The acronyms alone are enough to drive you crazy…you have iPod iPAD Nook Kindle ISBN numbers…LLCN numbers…fed ID numbers…ebooks…ereaders…and so on! The writer needs a helper to allow the writer to actually write. My husband and I are finding that out. We are having alot of fun self-publishing…but it is a job for two people in order to keep the book moving to market! Thanks for all of your knowledge!
    Sandy

    Mac-user April 19, 2012 at 4:21 am

    How about now, two years later and another generation iPad?
    I was thinking two years ago exactly on the same way and today I buy always two versions of the same book – paper and eBook. Honestly I did not touch the paper books yet, but have my iPad with me everywhere with all kind of literature. I can search and find any page within seconds when preparing lectures – but have to spend sometimes hours to find a particular information in my library. Before I carried dozens of books with me on travel and have to pay extra on Airport – today i carry 100s of books with me on iPad and can read where and when I have some spare time.
    Beside I got the same reaction when the CD was introduced, the DVD, the digital camera, the cellphone and all of it is pretty ‘normal’ around the world today. Waiting a week for pictures i the photoshop was normally, and paying in the store also for my unsharp pictures, ‘cutting-head-off’ pictures is history now. And Kodak – before one of the world largest companies is bankrupt this days, shows how the game is changing.
    I think only people who have the ability to adapt real changes fast, will always win the Game. Not the ones spending years with resistance, and when they finally see the light, the whole marked is already shared by others. I did read an article from this english engineer written around 1900 – about the new railway system. He was sure the horse will never disappear from the road and our cities. He was also sure, when people moving faster then 20 mph, they get mental ill. Our generation can’t imagine just horses in the cities…

    I think it’s part of our nature when growing up with a set of fix points , all of this can’t and will never change. But we are just a part of the change, whether we like it or not. Pleasure readings Joel

    Cheers

    Ian Whiteman August 2, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I put a comment here a couple of years ago before I owned an Ipad about my concerns. Now have one I can confirm pdfs are great to read in it as I had doubts that they would work. I now store all my pdfs in Ibooks so I can preview work I am doing sitting on a sofa at home. In fact it has replaced the laptop as favoured home computer….pity flash doesn’t work but that is not important. What I do like is long battery life; lightweight; no hot lap syndrome; compact. It’s not for creating stuff but good for just viewing at ease. Also many good free useful apps like the complete Mathnawi of Rumi and some excellent audio software for live recording. As for ebooks…they are a disaster.

    Joel Friedlander August 3, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the update. I agree that the iPad is fantastic as a PDF viewer, and I now use mine regularly to show designs etc. which I keep in a Dropbox folder. Also thanks for the tip about the Mathnawi, didn’t know about that one.

    Harold August 21, 2012 at 8:27 am

    magnificent post, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not realize this. You should proceed your writing. I’m
    sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

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