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Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

With tablets, is bigger always better?

iPad mini

Source: Apple.com

It’s uncertain how Apple’s iPad mini announcement last week will impact ebook publishers, with Digital Book World calling it a “mixed blessing.”

Over the past year or so, ebook buyers have been steadily switching to tablet devices from dedicated ereaders, which, according to Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker Market Research, will inevitably “‘draw the reader into non-book activities and therefore cause them to consume books slower and therefore buy fewer books versus a single function e-reading device.'” Even here at Appazoogle we’ve lamented the distractions when reading on a multi-function device.

But I think the iPad mini, along with other, smaller tablets (including Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, Google’s Nexus 7, and Kobo’s Arc), actually encourages more ereading (read as: ebook sales) because of the way a smaller tablet fits more easily in the reader’s hand. Sure, Facebook and Angry Birds are still there to distract you, but being able to hold the device comfortably while standing in a subway car, or slip it into a small purse for on-the-go reading could actually be a great advantage to ereading.

Let’s compare: I have an iPad 2, weighing in at 1.33 pounds, and measures 7.31 inches wide and 9.50 inches tall, 0.34 inches thick. I do some reading on it, but it’s not as comfortable as reading a regular paperback. When sitting up reading in bed, I tend to use two hands (resist the urge to to call me a weakling, please), or pull my legs up and prop the iPad on my knees. Not exactly the ideal reading position.

I also tend not to want to take it with on public transportation, since, A. it doesn’t fit in my purse, and B. I would only read on it if I got a seat on the subway, since if not I’d be holding on to a bar with one hand to keep from being tossed around—for anyone who’s younger than 65, not visibly pregnant, and takes the train during rush hour, you know the chances of sitting down are slim.

I want to read ebooks on my iPad more often, which is why I’m so excited about the iPad mini. It’s nearly half the weight of my current iPad at 0.68 pounds. The dimensions are smaller, too: 5.3 inches by 7.87 inches. It has slimmed down a tiny bit as well, at 0.28 inches thick. To me, this sounds like an ideal reading device. And it seems that some analysts agree. According to Digital Trends:

…Tablets aren’t just about great tablet apps anymore: they’re about media consumption. It’s no coincidence that the primary use of devices like the Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7 are not being positioned as general purpose computing devices but as media consumption devices enabling people to read books, listen to music, and watch television and movies anywhere they go. It may be difficult to build interactive, touch-centric tablet applications that work and look great on a 7-inch screen. But if all you’re doing is sitting back and watching video—or flipping to the next page—[a] 7-inch tablet usually works just fine. In fact, it probably works better than a full 10-inch tablet, because it’s lighter and easier to manage with one hand.

As iOS developer Will Larche explained it to Tech News Daily, “To read a book on an iPhone is too small, but on [a 10-inch] iPad is too big.'”

So if we are to believe the hype and assume the iPad mini is actually superior to the standard iPad as far as ereading, the next inevitable question is: Will the mini cannibalize regular iPad sales?

2 comments on “With tablets, is bigger always better?

  1. John F. Harnish
    October 30, 2012

    I have an older, heavier, and fatter iPad1—it takes two hands when reading in bed!!! My buying decision was based on the fact that it displays Kindle and Nook ebooks. I’m the author of twently ebooks and I check how my formatting appears on the iPad screen. The larger screen displays the WordsWithFriends board larger than my son’s smart phone—at times size is an advantage. In this sluggish economy I won’t be migrating to a mini. Besides, I’m still trying to figure out what does what on the iPad.

    Enjoy often…John
    Author of the weather thriller, “Blasting the Hell Out of Tornados: Pandora vs. Supercell”

    • Keira Bunn
      October 31, 2012

      Thanks for the insight, John! It is pretty hard to justify purchasing a mini when I have a perfectly good, regular iPad.

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2012 by in Culture, Technology and tagged , , .

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