by Jim Lynch

Do you read on your iPad?

Aug 15, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsiOSiPad

The iPad is a fantastic device, but how many people actually use it for reading books? I use my iPad Pro all the time for reading, but not necessarily in the way you might expect.

The iPad can do many different things, and it can do them quite well. One of the best uses for an iPad is reading, given the high quality of the iPad’s screen and how it makes access to books so quick and easy via apps like iBooks or Kindle.

But how many people actually use their iPads for reading? This topic came up in a recent thread on the MacRumors forum, and there were some interesting responses by forum members.

I’ll share my own thoughts about reading on the iPad below, but here’s a selection of comments from the MacRumors thread:

MacFinnley: “I’m just curious. Do you read on your iPad? And if so, do you have an iPad Mini, Regular or even Pro? Do you read in Bus/Train/Plane as well or just at home in bed and on couch? 🙂

I have an old Kindle for reading when I’m on the way to work/home but I consider buying an iPad Pro 9.7. Is it too big to read on it?”

CE3: “I find the 9.7 to be the perfect size for books. Although I don’t read nearly as often as I should, I enjoy the experience on my iPad when I do. I had a smaller 7-inch Galaxy tablet a long time ago and never liked reading on it much.”

TrueBlou: “I’ve got a 12.9″ iPad Pro and I read on it every night. I’ve got a Kobo Aura h2o as well but it’s not seen use for a while, I mostly use that when I go on holiday for when I’m sitting at the pool.

(I also like the screen size for my Gary Larson books and the like, nice and big and clear.)”

Smacrumon: “ use an iPad mini for reading and web browsing. I read and web browse on an iPhone, but web browsing is more enjoyable on the iPad. I also use the iPad mini to test an app I’m developing which can simulate an iPhone screen as well as behave like a regular iPad. I use Pages for basic document creation. But I do find that working on the iPad decreases productivity so anything substantial I’m working on, I often need to return to an iMac.

I use the iPad mini usually on the couch or on a table, at the library or on the go. One reason I chose the mini was due to it’s very neat compact size and much lighter weight than the larger iPads. Plus, the mini doesn’t have a protruding camera. (I think the camera sticking out on the new iPad Pro is such a poor design decision, but that’s just an opinion.)

I suspect the Kindle with e-ink has much better display quality for reading in super bright light such as under the sun at the beach. The iPad won’t be as great in super bright beach light. But I guess this all depends on if your iPad likes to stay seaside under the sun often.

I was attracted to the mini because although the colour gamut technically wasn’t apparently as good as an iPad (which I haven’t really been able to notice), the image quality was incredibly sharp, even more sharper than iPad when comparing them side by side. (This would likely be due to the higher pixels per inch (ppi) with 326 ppi on the iPad mini just like on iPhone vs a lower 264 ppi on iPad Air and Pro.)

For ebooks, and other resources in the typical ebook format, mini is great, and I can adjust the text size when reading in the iBooks app. Sometimes when reading A4 sized PDF’s though, due to the text size being fixed in a PDF, text can be rather small to read on the mini. However that’s easily fixed by a double tap on the block of text to zoom in and focus in on that piece of text, or rotating the device landscape to fill the width also works a treat. Sometimes when reading PDFs, and depending on the set up of the PDF document, I get slightly strange colours due to the way the document was created either in an RGB or CMYK colour space (e.g. dark blue displays as lighter cyan blue). It’s not an issue for most things, just some PDFs.”

Sparksd: “I do all of my Kindle reading on my Air 2 and no longer use my Kindle PaperWhite because I strongly prefer the Air 2. I usually read sitting up in a chair or while laying in bed.”

Ozaz: “I use my iPad mini to read during my commute and when relaxing at home. I mainly read newspaper apps, eBooks, and web articles. I prefer the size of the mini to the 9.7″ iPad.”

Snarl: “I read heavily on my iPad, books, magazines,comics etc… Excellent reader for me.”

Restlesslegs: “Similar to others here I do read a lot on my iPad (Air 1), but only “disposable literature” (newspapers, news magazines) – for serious stuff I much prefer my Kindle Paperwhite, for some reason I can much better concentrate, might be a matter of lighting and screen… I also do 80% of my web browsing on my iPad.”

Profets: “I enjoy reading books on iPad quite a bit. I find the mini and the Plus size iPhone to be the most comfortable for pure book reading. Though I’m now using a 9.7″ iPad and reading still feels great.”

Boston04and07: “This is a really interesting thread. I’ve used multiple screen sizes and types to read pretty much everything at this point. I’ve now settled on an iPad mini 4 and absolutely love it. I use it to read .epub books, textbooks, and PDFs in iBooks and so far, it’s the best reading experience I’ve had. I actually prefer it to my older Kindle, since the clear retina screen feels way easier on my eyes than the not-quite-white against not-quite-black text that the Kindle had.

I also like that the iPad’s screen emits its own light. I know I’m way in the minority here, but I’m very finicky with my reading light and I get eyestrain pretty quickly if the ambient light hitting a printed page is even a bit too dim. Weird as it is, the backlight of the iPad mini 4 eliminates that issue for me completely and I get eyestrain way less than when I’m reading from a printed page. I know that the newer Kindles would probably eliminate that issue for me too, and I admit I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, so it might not be a fair comparison. However, I’m definitely happy with my mini 4 and wouldn’t change a thing.

I had a mini 2 before the 4, and the newer screen is just phenomenal in comparison. I always knew the mini 2’s screens had issues, but I guess I just got used to it over the years. But now that I have a mini 4, there really is no comparison! The colors and clarity are just incredible. I used to use the 9.7“ iPads before I had the mini 2, and I always thought they were a bit too big for book reading to me. As much as I prefer backlit displays for reading, the 9.7” was just too big, emitting too much light, especially when I was reading in bed. The mini 4 is closer in size to your average paperback, so I feel most comfortable with a device that size.”

Vogue Harper: “iPad Pro 9.7″ for reading my photography magazines – the colour retina display is just perfect for this.

I have to admit though, for reading novels and other text books, I still cannot move away from my Kindle Paperwhite. The e-ink display is hard to beat. It just feels so much more natural and akin to reading a physical paper copy of my books.”

More at the MacRumors Forum

As you can tell from the sample of comments above, most people seem to enjoy reading on their iPads. But there is definitely a split between those who do most or all of their reading on iPads, and those who use the iPad for some reading materials but also opt for a Kindle-ereader for novels.

But one thing I noticed that was missing in the thread about reading on the iPad: audiobooks.

I read on my iPad via Audible’s audiobooks

I might be one of the odder examples of a guy who reads on his iPad. Yes, I do use the Kindle app on my iPad at times for text-based books. It works very well for reading text on the iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch screen.

However, my main method of reading on my iPad (and also my iPhone) is Audible’s audiobook app. Yes, I prefer audiobooks to text-based books these days. Don’t get me wrong, I still like my Kindle books, but for the most part I prefer to listen to books via Audible’s app.

I stare at a computer screen for a lot of the day, and when I want to read I’ve found that listening is much more comfortable for me than staring at more text. Reading via Audible gives my tired eyes a chance to rest, and it lets me relax while the narrator does the work of reading for me.

I also enjoy the high audio quality of Audible’s books combined with the great performance of the iPad Pro’s speakers. Books sound really good on my iPad Pro, particularly when I download the high-quality versions of Audible’s audiobooks.

I particularly like reading on my iPad by listening to a book right before I go to bed. I usually set the timer on the Audible app for 15 or 30 minutes, and then I settle myself into bed and listen quietly. Hearing the narrator read the story takes my mind off of whatever happened during the day, and prepares me for dropping off to sleep. It’s a great way to relax and drift off.

Here’s a screenshot of some of the books in my Audible library on my iPad Pro:

audible books ipad pro

Audible books I’ve listened to on my iPad Pro

So now that you know how I use the iPad to read, you might be wondering what sort of books I have listened to on my iPad Pro. I have a few hundred of them at this point, so I can’t post the entire list but here are some I’ve enjoyed in the past or that I’m reading right now.