I’ve been meaning to write about Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf since this time last week. I decided then that I would spend some time over this last weekend writing a thoughtful post because the book deserves it. Of course, neither the time nor the focus to write that post arrived at the same time and it didn’t happen. I’ll do it tonight, I’ve been thinking about it long enough, it should just pour from my fingers. Yeah, right. It’s Monday, I am tired and have a mild headache. Poor Jacob’s Room. Tomorrow night, no excuses.

Tonight, I would like to talk about reading Jacob’s Room on my iPad. It is the first book I have read on it. At first it was not going well because there was so much glare. Eventually I was able to figure out a way to hold it so there was almost no glare, but gosh, what a pain! Bookman has an Apple Store near where he works and he stopped in there to find out if there was something we could do about the glare. There is a film thingy I can put on the display but it is not meant to be taken on and off so I would end up having everything look dim. Not a happy situation, but it eventually became bearable when I found the right angle although holding it at that angle for a sustained period is not entirely comfortable.

While reading I very much liked how easy it is to highlight passages. It is very intuitive. All I had to do was put my finger on the first word and drag it down the screen and a yellow highlight appeared. Word definitions were also pretty easy, just hold my finger down briefly on the word I want to define and when I lifted it up a small pop-up menu appeared from which I can choose “define.” This is also how you make a note. Choosing “note” from the menu pops up a little yellow lined note window and the keyboard appears on screen. Typing on the screen is a lot easier than typing on the tiny buttons on my Kindle.

However, reviewing my notes and highlights now that I am done is not simple. Oh, sure, they are all gathered in one place but the entire passage is not displayed only the first two or three lines. If I tap the passage it takes me to the place in the book and I can then read the whole thing. This does not make it easy to scan all my notes and highlights, there is too much going back and forth. My Kindle puts them all into a text file that I can then copy to my computer. I can then review all my notes and highlights at a glance and copy and paste ones that I want to quote in a blog post. Can’t do that on the iPad. Or can I and I just don’t know how? If anyone knows, please let me know!

Back to the plus side of reading on the iPad, it has page numbers! And, it will tell me how many pages I have left until I reach the end of the chapter. This was really nice. Not only did I know how long the book was and where I was in it, I also knew how long the chapter was and where I was in it. A very nice feature.

Do the plusses outweigh the minuses? Not really. While I like the page numbers, I am used to the Kindle progress bar percentage and don’t have a problem with it in general. The ease of highlighting and note taking on the iPad is wonderful too. But the downsides of accessing my notes and the screen glare loom as larger issues than the ease of highlighting and the detail of page and chapter numbers.

My conclusion? Print is best followed by my Kindle and then the iPad. Although, should I find myself reading an ebook with color photos in it, the iPad would win on that count. I suspect reading glossy magazines on the iPad would be a pleasant experience. Perhaps I will look into what my public library offers in digital magazines sometime and give it whirl. But for books in general, fiction especially, the iPad will never be my first choice of media.