E-Reader Update

I finally succumbed the other day and bought an e-reader—the iPad 2. It is my fourth (previously 1 Kindle and 2 iPads, each returned) attempt to come to terms with one of these gadgets.

The catalyst this time was the end of the $5 fee the New Yorker’s publisher was charging print subscribers to read the app version of the magazine. Subscribers are now able to download each issue of the magazine without any additional cost.

And since I was about to set foot in Italy once again, where the magazine is hard to find and if you do, it will always be two or three weeks old, probably older than the one you read before leaving. Now I can read it over here the morning it appears on the newsstands in New York. Since the new New Yorker has become much more politically and internationally focused than its former literary, cultural self, the articles don’t seem as dated as they might be when read weeks later.

To date I have enjoyed reading the magazine’s app. But I have not enjoyed being unable to highlight, copy, or save a passage of the text. I have tried and tried again to do this and have been uniformly unsuccessful. There is nothing on the Web that indicates it is possible. In response to my inquiry, the magazine sent the following reply:

Dear Subscriber:
At this time, highlighting and copying/ pasting is not a features in the app.

How disappointing! I am scarcely consoled by Sherry’s optimistic phrase, “At this time.” Maybe if enough readers voice their concern, as I have, the magazine will come around on this matter too.

Henceforth, when I read an issue on the iPad, I’ll have to have my laptop or a notepad on hand in order to copy anything and make occasional notes, both of which are part and parcel of the way I read the print edition or anything for that matter. And since the pages are not numbered, it is quite time consuming to try to find a passage sometime after finishing a piece.

I am currently getting used to the gadget. There are some books I will try to read and test what it is like to view films. There are several cinema apps (free) that look promising. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I have been playing a game, Words with Friends, with my wife. It’s a variation of Scrabble that she is a whiz at and when I manage to beat her, I am hoping that will be the end of my iPad game-playing-days. It is one heck of a time-waster.

In short, I see the iPad’s current limitations and some of its advantages for someone who primarily likes to read and watch films. Anything on the screen is bright and clear, like the quality of any Apple product, and to me that is a real advantage over the dull screen of the Kindle. There are an overwhelming number of tempting apps and those I prefer don’t cost a Euro.

This is a sort of status report. I’m not using the thing much. It remains to be seen whether I’ll ever get used to it or simply pass it on to someone else.