i (the newspaper), reading on the iPad and a few words about Kindles

Before getting my iPad, I promised to dump my expensive newspaper habit. It didn’t really work, because I missed the serendipity of a printed newspaper. So I came up with a compromise. I’d get a daily paper again, but instead of the full-fat Guardian I’d get i, the abridged Independent.

From tomorrow, I’m back to the Guardian.

i is a nice idea, but it’s not the paper for me. There’s very little comment, which I’ve come to realise is something I really want from a paper. It’s good for exactly 20 minutes of reading, so it’s not something you return to throughout the day – which, again, is something I want from a paper. And some of its supposed innovations are a pain in the arse, such as wasting two pages to tell you what’s in today’s issue (along with a daily “Ooh, this paper’s great, isn’t it?” editor’s letter), quoting tweets from ten randomly chosen people, having a “from the blogs” section that crams the entire blogosphere into 150 words or a TV guide that fails to answer the question, what’s on the bloody TV?

The other problem with i is that if you get it delivered, you’re probably paying more than the cover price for delivery. My newsagent charges 27p; i‘s cover price is 20p. There’s something enormously annoying about that.

So I’m back to the Guardian, for now at least. Financially it doesn’t make sense – it’s £1 a day for something I can get for free online – and there’s the constant danger of encountering an article by Tanya Gold, but I’ve definitely found that I read differently in print and on screens. For all its joys the iPad has a screen and reading on it feels like work: I speed-read, and pop in and out of apps, and look at Twitter, and…

Print doesn’t have that, and I think that’s a big plus. When I need to read, I read on a screen. When I want to read, I want to read without distraction.

That’s one of the things I like about the Kindle. Its additional features – its web browser, its MP3 playback – are rubbish enough that I don’t want to use them, so it works as a pure reading device. I do hope Amazon resists the temptation to add extra features in the next version.

2 thoughts on “i (the newspaper), reading on the iPad and a few words about Kindles

  1. mupwangle says:

    Having the 3g kindle, I quite like knowing that if I need to get onto my internet banking, for example, on holiday then I can. (Had a fraud issue when I was in France that was saved by my iphone but cost £10 in data charges) Buggered if I want to use it for anything else. Facebook completely fecks it (an experiment) and takes a lot of time to recover.

  2. Stephen says:

    Actually, I find the Kindle complete rubbish at anything beyond opening a book, and then going forward or back in it using the big side buttons. And maybe checking the time. It is so un-user-friendly it’s a joke. Trying to move to a particular numeric location is particularly fun. After you press Menu and then Go To.., you get a dialog box, which helpfully says “Enter location number”. But there aren’t any number keys on the machine. Eventually you think that maybe the “Sym” key might be of some help here. And it is, in a way: a window pops up with a whole lot of symbols, and numbers. But to select anything, you have to highlight it using the four-way rocker switch thing, and then press select. It would be a lot easier to scroll through the entire book with the page buttons.

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