Hands on – iPad Mini and iBooks

We take delivery of our first iPad mini and review how it shapes up for interactive eBook reading.

Firstly, there’s no doubt that it’s a lovely looking thing. We couldn’t wait to download some books and see how well the Mini performs as a device for interacting with eBooks created using iBooks Author.

1. Size – Comfortable and light to hold, the Mini is the perfect size for on the go reading and surfing. You can easily pop it in your jacket pocket, handbag or school bag.

2. Screen– The Mini pushes the boundaries for a 7 inch class device and manages to make the extra 0.9 inch (compared to other devices) seem more like several inches. We have to admit that we were slightly concerned about how interactive elements would translate to a smaller screen, but of course, we needn’t have been worried:

a. Landscape books – We tested some landscape iBooks including Disney’s free promotional iBook for the film ‘Frankenweenie’ and they work well. In fact, after a few moments, you completely forget that you’re not on a full size iPad. Authors need not necessarily take specific measures when designing the layout of their books, since the normal sizes for the headers, text, image and widget illustrations translate well, and you do not need to worry about cramming too much onto a single page.

b. Portrait books – After a year working with mostly landscape fixed layout iBooks it seems alien at first to view them in portrait, but we can see why iBooks Author v2 templates have been split. The portrait iBooks we tested look amazing on the Mini, and it’s actually nice to finally hold an iPad in one hand (as with other 7inch readers), but get the benefit of great interactive content too – the best of both worlds!