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Friday, April 08, 2011

Why iPads may not be good for "creatives"

I subscribe to iPad versions of The Times and The Economist. I find the iPad a convenient way of reading anything that's up to a thousand words long and doesn't rely on pictures, the kind of thing where you roughly know what you're going to get. The big feature, the journey of discovery, I'm not going to tackle on a screen.

I stick to the Times's Opinion section, the sport and a few other bits and pieces. In The Economist it's Bagehot and the British section of the magazine. Because I broadly know what I'm looking for and I'm more likely to find it via the navigation at the front than by idle flicking through (so much for the delight of page turning) there's less likelihood of my attention being caught by a good picture or a showy pull-quote. In fact the ideal layout for an iPad page could be this one on the left from today's Economist. Self-contained, looks long enough to read in kettle-boiling time and doesn't require the traditional picture of Eton boys and urchins.

When you're reading a publication on the iPad you're not bothered about bulk and it was the drive for bulk, which in turn was driven by specialist advertising opportunities, that eventually made me stop buying papers, particularly weekend ones. It resulted in papers that were groaning with fluff, where to find the bit you wanted to read you had to plough through tons of stuff which you didn't want to read and further tons of stuff to sort out for the binman on Monday night. I wonder whether the rise of the screen read will also result in an end to supplements, sections and some of the fluffier end of design. It won't bother me as a reader if it does.