Checking out an electronic epub formatted library book: part 2 – to read on my iPad

While I like ebooks, I don’t like them enough to buy a whole bunch of them. If I am going to buy a book, I still tend to buy paper. That’s not to say that I don’t want to read the latest things. For those books that I want to read just to keep up with what’s current, but probably won’t read again, I have found that I am using my library’s electronic book lending.

It’s been a while since I posted part one of this process. You can find a post here where I walk through some instructions to check out and download an electronic book from my local library for reading on my nook. I have since made more use of reading library eBooks on my iPad than I ever do on my nook. This is due largely to the ease of checkout, download, and read via a little app called Overdrive.

Overdrive Meda Console is available on a variety of platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad and apparently, even Windows 7.

I only use OMC on my iPad, so I can’t vouch for how well it works on the iPhone or what your reading experience will be there. I would imagine that it would just be smaller. All other functions really should be the same.

After installing OMC, checking out a library book could not be more simple. This is all provided you have your informatino from your library needed for online checkout of electronic books and that you have no fees from late returns open on your account. As long as you currently have what you need to check books out of your local library, you should be just fine.

Launch the app and it opens to a plain white and blue listing of books you currently have checked out. When it’s your first time, you probably don’t have any books there. Tap on the “get books +” button in the upper right hand corner.

This will flip the page over to another white and black listing of libraries. Again, if this is your first time you will have to add your library. Tap on the “Add a library +” to do so. To find your library, just put in its name, or address or postal code. A list of libraries should come up for you to click on the one that is yours.

Once you’ve clicked on your library, Safari will come up and allow you to log into the library using whatever library credentials you need there.  This is usually a library card number and a pin. Again, if you could log into your library account via the web before, you do it the same way here.

Once you have signed in, you might have to double tap the home button to go back to Overdrive. I have a feeling that it jumps back after login but I this is the one part of the process I don’t remember.

Now that you’ve put in your login credentials, Overdrive will remember your account information as well as that library on that white and blue page from here on after, so you don’t have to go dig your library card out in the middle of the night when you want to check out a book. To me, this is probably the feature I like the most in this whole setup.

To check out a book, browse around on your library’s eBook checkout page until you find something you like. My library has a digital cart system, and once you check out your cart, you have checked out the book. What Overdrive does, now, is brings the book you’ve checked out in your cart over to that first white and blue page and will ask if you want to download it. Do so and now you can read from within the Overdrive app.

As an ebook reader, Overdrive is just fine. I like it better than the nook app interface on the iPad but not nearly as much as I like the iBooks interface. The nice part of the interface is it shows you a tiny calendar and the number of days you have left to read your book. Once your lending period has expired, you will no longer be able to open the book and Overdrive will tell you so.

When you are done reading, you can delete the book from the Overdrive bookshelf. A nice touch here is that if you haven’t finished and your lending period has expired, if you recheck out the book, Overdrive will remember your place and you can continue to read where you left off.

I love how easy this is. It makes the process to put a book on my first generation nook seem to arcane and is such a hassle that I almost never do it. For electronic reading, I still prefer the black and white eink of the nook, but for ease in checking out electronic library books, this Overdrive app on the iPad is so simple I only use it.

I’d be interested to hear if any of you have used this app and what your experiences are.

Happy reading.


The end of my iPad only experiment

Back in March, my Macbook died (or it seemed that it died – more about how I brought it back to life in another post) and I was left without a computer. Instead of going out and purchasing a new Mac right then and there, I decided to wait. I read enough of the Apple press to know that with the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) just around the corner, new iMacs and MacBooks would be just around the corner.

I decided to embark on an experiment of sorts, to see if I could live with just my iPad2 as my computer while I put the purchase of a new iMac or MacBook on hold.

The WWDC came and went and only new MacBook Pros were announced. By then, I had decided that I was ready to switch back to a desktop machine from the laptop I had been using, and I wanted to purchase a  new iMac. With my iPad2 as my portable machine, I didn’t see the need for a laptop, but editing lots of photos and movies I have taken of my kids would be so much easier on an iMac.  Sadly, Apple didn’t announce new iMacs at the WWDC festivities.  So, rather than wait any longer, my husband and I visited the Apple store on this side of town (there are two) to purchase a new 21.5″ 2.7 GHz quad-core iMac, with 8GB RAM. Yes, I do know that this means new iMacs are destined to be released with the release of Mountain Lion later this month.

All in all, I would say that my experiment was a success. For everything that I needed the portability of a laptop for, my iPad2 is more than sufficient. I probably won’t be purchasing another laptop for personal use as long as I have an iPad. I am fairly proficient at typing on glass, and I like the touch screen, pinch zoom, swipe, gestures.

The things I use the iPad for (and do not need a desktop or full computer)

  • Surfing the web
  • Reading and responding to email
  • To Do List tracking (Wunderlist is my go to app)
  • Watching streaming video from iTunes, or ABC app player, youtube, etc. either on the iPad2 itself or to our television via Airplay to our Apple TV.
  • Listening to podcasts: via instacast app or stitcher radio app. The new Apple iOS podcast app only just came out and I have yet to test it out, but I suspect it would be fine too.
  • Reading Social Network sites via their apps: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+
  • Reading ebooks
  • Playing games

The only trouble I had with some of the social network apps on the iPad was the limitations they put on their functions in a mobile device. Twitter, in particular, made it hard for me to manage my account on the iPad. You can’t approve followers, or sort the folks you follow into your lists either via the twitter official app or the website. The Website part is annoying because I couldn’t figure out a way to bypass the mobile version of the site in order to get the full functionality.

While I appreciate it when sites anticipate what I want to see by offering a more streamlined “mobile” version of their site, I appreciate it even more when they offer a link to take me to the full site.  The iPad is a mobile device that is also capable of reading full webpages as they are designed to be read by the rest of the non-mobile audience.

As capable as my iPad is, there were still some show stoppers for me that lead me back to wanting to have a desktop as the base station for my i-devices.

Things I wanted a desktop for (and for which the iPad 2 just wasn’t enough).

  • Managing my iDevices
  • Manipulating and managing personal photos
  • Manipulating and managing home movies
  • Creating content (software development – I dabble)
  • Running analysis codes (sometimes work comes home with me)
  • Holding the movies, TV shows, etc to be served to our Apple TV
  • Backing up data from the iPads, iPhone, iPod Touch, as well as movies, photos, etc. via TimeMachine
  • Writing this blog (yes, you can do it, but I didn’t find it at all easy)
  • Manage my Barnes and Noble nook (downloading ebooks borrowed from the local library)

Managing my iDevices

In all, I manage two iPads (my original one that now belongs to my son, my iPad2),  my iPhone 4 and my daughter’s iPod touch. I am more comfortable updating the iOS, and apps on my computer via iTunes, and then updating the rest of the iDevices via iTunes by physically hooking them unto the Mac. Call it old habits or bad memories, but updating things over the air makes me terribly nervous. I did it during the three month experiment, but it was always with copious fingers crossed.

Overall, if you’re considering making your iPad your only computer, you should go through the list of things you want to be able to do with it. For me, the list seemed even, but in the end, the things I wanted an iMac for (over a MacBook) were all things that I couldn’t do with the iPad alone.

I think it’s worth a few more blog posts to go through each of the items that I found I couldn’t do with the iPad alone. Some of them were show stoppers, and some of them were things I found the iPad just didn’t do as well as an iMac.

I don’t think that Apple means for the iPad to be everything. At least, I don’t think that apple sees the iPad as the everything device just yet. I can see a future where Apple envisions the iCloud serving all the functions my iMac does, and the iPad just interacts with it. For me, though, that’s not really the path I’d like to walk. I’ve always been a “let me do what I want” sort of gal when it comes to my Mac, and I don’t see the Cloud replacing that anytime soon.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve got specific questions about things you want to do with your iPad only solution that you don’t think you can. I will so my best to answer them.

Take care and happy computing.


RSM Research: Traveling with iPad only, writing apps

My Mom and Step Dad are about to head on off to the great state of Alaska for a two week vacation. They both have MacBook Pros but recently got iPad2s when the price dropped upon the release of the new iPad. They are long time iPhone users, so they know their way around iOS.

They’d like to travel light, but they also want to email and keep in touch with family while they are on the road, so they want to take only the iPads with them and leave the laptops at home.

Staying Connected

For the most part, I think they can. They can read email, surf the web when they are within a free wi fi hot spot, assuming their hotel and Bed and Breakfast locations have wi-fi. For non network requiring apps, they can play on the road and outside of networks. My Step Dad bought the iPad 2 with 3G and plans on turning on the month of service from AT&T before they go. I will be out of town when they leave, so I am encouraging him to actually go to an AT&T store and have them turn on the 3G service this first time. That way he has someone to walk him through the process.

Writing on the iPad

The primary reason both my Mom and Step Dad wanted to bring their laptops along was to write. They both have some writing to do for work and fun while they are traveling, so I spent last night researching potential options of writing apps on the iPad. My quick searching last night yielded three apps I am testing out, two of which I have installed on their iPads and hope that they can actually use.


Naturally, Apple’s flagship iWork application, Pages, is the first app I thought of. However, I am not sure how to get the documents from Pages to somewhere else with iDisk going away. I haven’t upgraded my own MobileMe account to iCloud yet so I I haven’t tested how Pages is integrated with iCloud. As far as I know, Pages doesn’t support Dropbox storage. Given the short timeframe I have to find and test out an app, I’ve ruled out Pages for now. The $9.99 charge for the app when I don’t know if it will do what they need helped with that decision.


A few weeks back, iMore reviewed and recommended the app PaperDesk for the iPad. I had been looking for a good note taking app that would have both stylus/drawing capabilities as well as typing abilities. I’ve used it to take notes in meetings a few times, and found it to be responsive and fairly straightforward to use. You can get the paid for version for $3.99 and a free lite version. I gave both my Mom and Step Dad a quick tutorial and then let them play with the app for a few minutes on my iPad2 before decided to purchase the paid for both of them. I liked how quick the pen responded to figure gestures on the iPad’s screen. The insertion of photos was seemless and as long as you were good at placing the curser where you wanted text to start, the typing also seemed to work well. It was the syncing to dropbox was the deciding factor for me, but the ease of creating notebooks as well as picking the email option as a way to transfer files. Hopefully they will actually get some use of the app.


I rounded out the testing with a free app called PlainText by Hog Bay Software because it is specifically designed with DropBox text editing in mind. While I did download it for my Mom, I didn’t get a chance to test it out before my husband and I had to get the kids home for bath and bedtime. So, Mom is on her own. Since this one is free, hopefully she will be able to tinker with it.


The linchpin to all of this, and the thing I never finished getting them set up on is DropBox. I had them both download the Dropbox app but didn’t get a chance to sign them up for accounts. Hopefully I can get it done before I leave for vacation, but if I don’t they will have to backup their documents with email.

Other options

While I didn’t even install it, Evernote was another option I considered. I dismissed it because in my opinion, unless you get the paid version, Evernote isn’t useful on an iPad when you’re traveling and not on a wi-fi network.  You can write something local but once it’s synced up on Evernote’s servers, it becomes really difficult to add to that note. We had a headache using it on a recent trip because we the wi-fi we were using kept dropping the signal so we couldn’t access any of our previously written notes. I wished the app cached more on the iPad.

Hopefully all will go smoothly, because my husband and I (the resident Mac and iOS tech support for my family) will be as far in the continental US from my Mom and Step Dad on their Alaskan vacation as we can be.

Wish us all happy travels and lots of good luck!


RSM musings: All my friends are buying iPads.

An interesting thing keeps happening to me. Over the last few weeks, several friends and family who have long known my obsession with Macs and all things Apple have contacted me out of the blue to either get advice on or announce with great fanfare their purchase of a new iPad.  They contacted me to let me know that the “got it” and knew that I’d be as excited about their purchase as they were. The finally understood why I’ve been such a fanatic all these years. They finally see what I saw in the simplicity and brilliance of the creations coming from Apple and what has made me such a devoted fan.

I remember when I was the only person in my family who even knew of the Macintosh computer, let alone owned one. Everyone else used PCs running Windows and they never really understood my devotion to an operating system that ran on such a small segment of the market. How would I get anything done on a machine that less than 5% of the personal computer users owned?

I knew why. I knew that Macs were different. The Mac was built as though Apple knew how I thought, knew how I worked, knew I just wanted to get things done.  By simplifying things, Steve Jobs and his team at Apple made me a better engineer, a better rocket scientist.  I wish I’d been able to thank him.

I remember sitting in a Mac User Group meeting about 9 or 10 years ago, and one of the attendees held up their Palm Pilot and asked when Apple would make something better. Several folks in the room concurred (myself included). We all liked having a portable electronic calendar and note taker, but it was so limited. It was so hard to use. We wanted something made by Apple so that, like our Macs, it would just work. The Apple rep just smiled. All he would say is that we weren’t thinking big enough.

That was years before Apple announced the iPhone and the iPad, but I have the sneaking suspicion that prototypes for both existed inside Apple headquarters in Cupertino at the time we were asking. Jobs knew what we wanted in those devices even better than we were able to articulate.

I am glad that we are living in the interesting times we’re living in now. I am glad I have always been a Mac fanatic. I am glad that so many of my family and friends are finally getting their hands on revolutionary technology. And I cannot wait to see what is going to come next.

Think Different


RSM Experiment: Using my iPad 2 as my only computer –part III: Editing Photos

Continuing my series of articles on using my iPad 2 as my only computer (see Part I the background here, and part II on podcast streaming here).

I take a lot of digital photos. A. Lot. My MacBook’s hard drive is probably equally filled with movies and photos. After every family vacation, I have been using iPhoto to manage my photos and create photo books of the trip. I used to upload photos to Shutterfly and order prints to put into photo albums, but I’m running out of room in my house for physical photo albums and the time to actually do the ordering and putting photos in the albums. The iPhoto books seemed a good alternative.

One year I made my mom an iPhoto book of the grandchildren. It was such a big hit that she’s requested an updated photo book every year for Christmas s the only gift she wants. I try to capture photos of all of our get togethers during the course of the year into one album in iPhoto, and then spend November painstakingly putting together the book.

I have found I like to do this in iPhoto even though there are online options like shutterfly because our home internet connection is so very ridiculously slow. Working off line saves my sanity.

Now that apple has finally introduced iPhoto for the iPad, I might be able to move the whole iPhoto book creation over to my iPad as well. For now, all of my photos sit on the hard drive that lacks a computer to access them, so I will have to wait a bit to test this out.

Since I don’t yet have the iPhoto app to test, I am not sure how the workflow will go. Would I need to move the photos to my iPad to edit them, or can I push them to the iCloud (When I get there) and bring them down onto the iPad to edit them. Given the previous statement about our slow internet connection speeds, whatever I do, I will want to have the photos offline on the iPad to do the editing.

I am also concerned with the screen size. I have found that using even my 13″ MacBook has become difficult because I can’t really see if a photo is blurry or not. I can only enlarge them so much. The fact that I use my laptop mostly for photo editing is the primary reason that is driving me toward an iMac as my next computer.

This one is going to have to wait on hold until I can get the photos from my hard drive to my iPad to actually test it out. Let’s consider this a placeholder for when I actually have time to get the iPhoto app and give it a proper review.


RSM Experiment: Using my iPad 2 as my only computer –part II podcast management Stitcher app

I mentioned here that I am conducting a bit of an experiment to see whether I can, at least temporarily, live with my iPad 2 as my only computer. In going through this experiment, I decided to walk through all of the things I typically use my computer for and not my iPad to try to identify iOS alternatives.

First up is podcast management.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Up until now, I have listened to them all on my 6 year old iPod video. I liked the organization of my iPod and iTunes syncing for podcast management even if that meant I couldn’t sync and update podcasts on the go.

Initially I looked into a syncing only option as opposed to an app that would allow you to download to listen to later. This option wontakings up any space up on my iPhone. I have a 60 GB video iPod and it’s pretty crammed full of podcasts (and music). I only have the 32 GB white iPhone 4 (the largest hard drive they made at the time) half filled with photos, apps and a couple Lost episodes, and I’d rather not fill it the rest of the way up with podcasts. So, streaming is an alright option. Since I am grandfathered into the unlimited plan, I am not worried about streaming bandwidth taking up my data as I roam away from my home wi-fi hotspot. I have yet to use very much of my data plan (when I remember to check) because I am usually within a wi-fi hotspot when doing anything substantial on my iPhone.

Stitcher radio app – (free)

The the first app I have tried is the Stitcher radio app. I had heard anout it from one of my Disney themed podcasts, WEDWay Radio, They mentioned that they were both on itunes and on Stitcher. Simple web searches on podcast iOS app reviews also mentioned Stitcher being a noteworthy free option to stream podcasts on your iOS device.

After downloading the app, I successfully subscribed to all the Disney podcasts I listen to and streamed them as was driving in the car. My first impression is that i don’t like the interface. I don’t like that it starts to play the selected podcast right away. I can’t figure out how to change the icon on the favorites grouping. It just seems messy. Granted I haven’t played with it extensively, but the user interface is the first thing you notice and this one seems non intuitive.

Interface aside, the only other potential issue is that not all podcasts are available via Stitcher. I believe that the podcasters have to submit or somehow get their podcast into the Stitcher radio system. That being said, so far all of the podcasts I wanted to listen to were available.

I think this is a solid app to stream podcasts, especially because it’s free. I am going to try out one or two more apps, though, because I don’t care for the interface and I think i would like to have the ability to download the podcasts to listen to later instead of streaming them.

Since it’s free, it’s worth a look.



RSM Experiment: Using my iPad 2 as my only computer – Background

Well, that’s done. My 2007 MacBook has finally up and died. I’ve spend the last few months trying to eek out more time with my MacBook by upgrading the RAM, then the hard drive. Then upgrading the hard drive again for more space and because that drive, at 7200 rpm, might have been running too hot for the inclosure.

It all seemed to be going just fine until last week, when my MacBook would not wake from screen saver mode. The drive wasn’t asleep. I could still access my iTunes home sharing via my Apple TV, but the MacBook itself wouldn’t come out of screen saver for me to do anything else. After trying a few of the force quit key combinations I just held down the power button to force it to shut down.

That’s the last thing she was capable of doing. Rebooting the machine brought up the dreaded folder with a question mark on it indicating that the Mac couldn’t find a system folder to boot from. Luckily, I still had my old drive in an external inclosure, so I booted from that via USB. Running disk utility showed that the new internal drive had a catalog b-tree error and would need to be reformatted.

I thought that perhaps this new drive (which had only been in the MacBook a week) was at fault, and perhaps I could fix it. If I couldn’t, then it was still under the 30 day no hassle return policy at I decided to try to boot into single user mode and run fsck and try to repair what I could. Unfortunately, the MacBook never booted up again after that. I could no longer get the MacBook to boot from the external old drive I knew still worked (I had mounted it to my husband’s iMac and verified all was well), let alone the internal new drive. There was no more question mark system folder icon on the blueish grey startup screen. There was only the blueish grey startup screen.

Since I cannot boot from either drive, my suspicion is that the mother board has finally died. Whether this is related to the rechargeable battery which had started to warp and which I had removed so I could take it to an Apple store, or it just failed because it’s almost five years old, I don’t know.  I’ve decided that it’s not worth putting any more money into this machine and it’s finally time to get something new.

Since I am fairly familiar with Apple’s typically cycle of hardware updates, I know that both the MacBook Pro and the iMac are very close to new revisions. I am leaning toward an iMac because I have found I need more hard disk space than a laptop would come with to hold movies to stream via my Apple TV. Since getting my iPad, I’ve used the laptop less as a laptop and more as a desktop machine. The currently shipping iMac was released in May of 2011, so it’s very  very close to a new model’s potential release date if Apple holds to my perception of their schedule. All of which means, that whether I replace my old black MacBook with a new MacBook Pro or an iMac, I am going to have to wait.

This leaves me with no computer for the next month or so, giving me an opportunity to test whether I can get along with just my iPad 2. I thought I’d take the opportunity to document how I use the iPad 2 and whether I really could get by without a computer. In the end, since I plan on buying a new Mac as soon as I can, I know the answer is no, but it’s going to be a challenge to see how much I can get by without one.

It is worth noting that even though I have an iPad, I still used my MacBook from time to time. To see if I can use just the iPad, I will be listing all of the things I typically use my MacBook for and go through one by one to with iPad only solutions.

This should be interesting.


RSM app review: Wunderlist

I have been a long time user of “to do” lists, both at home and at work. Making a list of the things I need to get done is the best way for me to keep my world organized.  When I started working at my current job, I was introduced to a formal list making program by the folks at Franklen-Covey.  Once I got my very own Franklin Planner, I never looked back. I am never without it.

Once my family gave me my original iPad, I started to think that perhaps I could replace the physical planner with an electronic one on the iPad (and hopefully the iPhone).  I’ve been searching for a while, and I think I might have finally found my replacement. Let me walk you through all of the apps I’ve tried and my thoughts on their usefulness.

The first app I tried to use was Evernote. I still think that Evernote is an awesome app and gets daily use on my iPhone, iPad, and my Mac to share bits of this or that as I coordinate my life. The synchronization between all of my computers makes it a hit. I can use it from whatever Apple device I find myself using at the time, and all of the data is gathered into one place.  It’s a great way to gather data  into topics for use later. I’ve taken to using it as an invaluable tool in the planning of our Family Disney World vacations.  But it’s not a to do list app. It’s too much for that. I need something a bit more simple that just does lists.

Then I tried a series of apps specifically called “to do” or “getting things done” apps. All of them let you manage lists and some offered the ability to put those lists into related folders, but none of them were easy to use. I kept using my physically planner, hoping I’d eventually find something. Among them were: Nubi Do, Toodledo, and Apple’s Reminders. I thought that both Nubi Do ($4.99) and Toodledo (free) did what I wanted but I didn’t care for the interfaces. I actually started to use the Reminders app (also free) at the beginning of the year as an experiment, but since I am not yet moved to the iCloud, I couldn’t sync between all my devices so I stopped using it.

Then I read a review on the blog of a fellow Disney fan, Kidani Katie, of a to do list called Wunderlist. As Katie puts it, this one is also free so it doesn’t cost you anything to check it out.  Immediately, I liked the interface. Versions are available for just about any platform, mobile or not, that you can think of. I downloaded it to my iPhone, my iPad and to my Mac OS X laptop. Even though I am an iOS fanatic to the core, I still find typing just a bit easier with a physical keyboard over a virtual keyboard. There, I said it, and I will deny having said it to anyone.

I started  by setting things up with the Mac OS X app interface. First, I set up a wunderlist account. This is how all of your lists will synchronize across your devices. Since I will be sending these lists up to a server, I am mindful not to include anything that I wouldn’t want to be saved to a cloud interface. Next, I set up boxes for work, for home, for kids specific, etc. In my Franklin Planner, I’d categorize my to do list by splitting it into two: work and home. Wudnerlist allowed me to break that down even further.  Then I went about figuring out how to enter to do items. It took me a few minutes of tinkering to figure out how to link those to do items with a date. If they are entered under the boxes they don’t have a due date. You have to put those in by hand.

Once everything was set up, I logged into the wunderlist app I’d installed on my iPhone using the same account I’d set up on my OS X machine.  After a little bit of syncing, all of the boxes and to do items I’d created on my Mac magically appeared.

Mac OS X interfaceI found the iOS interface to actually be a bit more intuative than the Mac OS X interface. It was easier for me to add information (notifications, due dates, categories, notes) to individual to do items via the iPhone than on my Mac just because of the layout on iOS. In spite of not initially thinking I’d use the iPhone interface other than to add or check off the occasional items from my lists, I actually do most of my list making on the iPhone. I think that once everything was set up the way I wanted it to be, that day to day entering is simpler on the iPhone.

My great experiment really started when I noticed half way through my day that I had left my Franklin Planner in a bag in my car. I hadn’t even needed it.  I did all my lists entirely electronically and aside from some notes I took in a notebook in a meeting, I didn’t even need paper.

It’s been about a month now, and I can safely say that the iPhone has replaced my Franklin Planner in tracking my to do list. It’s always with me; fits in my purse; is on my night stand. In fact, I use the iPhone more than the iPad to do my list tracking because it is the thing that I always have on hand.

If you are looking for a getting stuff done to do list tracking app, I’d heartily recommend you give wunderlist a try.



Getting ePub books onto my iPad

I have a number of epub formatted books to read, that up until now I have had on my nook for when I wanted to step away from my computer to read them. In keeping with my goals of trying to read things on my iPad2 now, I wanted to move these documents onto my iPad2.

I know the brute force method is to take them from my MacBook, I could drag and drop the books into iTunes to be uploaded into my iBooks bookshelf while the iPad2 is tethered via its USB cable and syncing via iTunes.

But I don’t want to do that. I want to be able to do as much as possible without having to go back and tether the iPad2 to my MacBook. I know this has got to be possible, but for a while I was at a bit of a standstill.  Then I thought of dropbox.  Looking back at it, I am surprised I didn’t think of it sooner.

Here is my solution. I loaded all of the ePub formatted books into my dropbox from my Macbook. Note how this still required me to go to a Mac at first. Then I launched the dropbox app on my iPad2 and navigated to the epub book. Choosing one of the book file names brings up a drop down menu where I can choose which application to use to open the documents. iBooks was one of the choices. Choosing iBooks opened the iBooks app where I watched the epub book I was hoping to read enter the iBooks “bookshelf” to find a home right next to my Steve Job biography.

I have not yet synced the iPad2 to my MacBook, so this setup hasn’t been backed up and saved into iTunes, but the book is still in the iBook bookshelf every time I open the application.

It worked and, more importantly, it was easy.


Reading eBooks on my iPad2: My experience

About a year ago, I purchased the nook so that I could read eBooks since my iPad was almost entirely dominated by my children’s use. Last fall, my loving husband bought an iPad2 for my birthday so that I could have my own iPad to use. I share this one with my daughter, but she doesn’t use it nearly as much as my son uses my original iPad.

This year, I decided to give reading books on the iPad a try.

My first eBook was, naturally, the Biography of Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson. I purchased it via Apple’s iBooks store more out of loyalty than any other technical or monetary reason. I have the nook and kindle apps for my iPad, so I could have easily purchased it via Barnes and Nobel or Amazon respectively.

I enjoyed the experience of reading on the iPad2 more than I thought I would. Initially, I though that the lighted screen might be a strain on my eyes. While I still prefer the eink technology for eBook reading, I did enjoy the ability to read in the dark while getting my children to bed that reading on the iPad2 gave me.

Aside from the backlighting, the first thing I noticed was the speed contrast between my Wi-Fi + 3G nook and the iPad2 iBooks book. There was no comparison. The iPad2 page turning was responsive. The nook’s page turning was slow.  The iPad2’s iBooks layout was more book like, the nook’s was less so. Given that my nook is a generation old now with the introduction of the nook simple touch, I would hope that the new hardware might provide a little snapper response. I’ve only had the chance to check out the nook simple touch at Target in demo mode, so I cannot speak to it’s function.

Not all book reading apps on the iPad are as nice. I have tried out three other apps to read books checked out from the library (article with instructions coming).

First I tried Overdrive, an application recommended by my local library. For some, but not all, eBook (epub and pdf format) titled in my local library’s eBook catalog, I can check the book out from and read it within the Overdrive application itself. While the ability to do this within the app, and without having to go to an additional Browser or my Macbook in order to get the content onto my iPad was nice, the interface left a lot to be desired when compared to the iBooks reading experience. Gone were the paper-like page turning graphics. Instead of a page turn, the page simple changes to the pervious or the next page depending on which side you’d tapped on. It works and it’s fast but there’s something less graceful and less book-like and more computer-like to this experience.  What I did like was the ability to set type size as well as page color between white to ecru, both of which made reading easier on my eyes.

The next app I tried for reading library eBooks was Bluefire. From the app, it appears that there is a way you check out books out from within BlueFire through some of their affiliates, but since I don’t see my library listed there, I have not tried that method. How I got the content onto my iPad2 here was to check out the book via my Safari browser, download the DRM key to my Macbook. Use Adobe Digital Editions to verify the DRM and download the file. Upload that file via iTunes to the BlueFire app with my iPad2 mounted. Once in the BlueFire reader, you can also set night mode (white text on black background) and text size, as well as fit to page width in the settings. The page turning here is a slide to the left or slide to the right motion, not a page flip. It reminds me of the old microfiche readers our library at work used to have.

To read pdfs, my go-to application is GoodReader. I could write a blog post on GoodReader alone (perhaps I will). The GoodReader app is available as a free and a paid version. I liked it enough that I paid for the full version of both the iPhone and iPad versions. There are a variety of ways of getting pdfs into GoodReader to read on your iPad2. I’ve used most of them. You can use iTunes and upload to your iPad or iPhone at sync, you can link to a dropbox account, your MobileMe iDisk (for as long as that will be around), or download pdfs directly from the web. The application is easy, quick and intuitive. It’s hands down the best pdf reader on iOS.

Overall, reading on the iPad2 has been a really good experience. I don’t find the iPad2’s form factor too big and bulky to use as a ereader. In fact, the Isaacson book is heavier than my iPad2 even in it’s Protenzo case.  Now that I’ve figured out how to check out library books both directly to the iPad and via an iTunes sync, my nook might just be relegated to sitting unused on my nightstand.

Your experience might vary, but the iPad2 has become an everything device for me.