And now a brief word about the iPad.

by Jason Wilson on April 9, 2010

I would like to take a moment and not respond to Greg Lambert’s post about whether legal publishers should rely on the iPad as the sole platform for electronic publishing, and instead give you my initial impression of the MAGICAL DEVICE as it relates to my amazingly stunning products, namely, portable, perfect-bound legal practice manuals and heavily annotated codes.

As I patiently wait for my uber-fantastical 3G version of the MAGICAL DEVICE, I had the opportunity to play with a lowly Wi-Fi-only, less than totally MAGICAL DEVICE today. Following my grubby finger-swiping, finger-pinching molestation of the thing, I made the following observations about the MAGICAL DEVICE and legal {pick any: treatises, handbooks, manuals, forms books, code books, etc.}:

  1. It’s heavy. Heavier than I thought it would be. Not as heavy as something like ¬†West’s “4 in 1″ Goldbook of California civil statutes and rules (and certainly not as unwieldy), but still heavy.
  2. It’s purdy. I didn’t want to lick it, like my first iPhone, but it looked sexy.
  3. It’s faster than I expected. The responsiveness is similar to the iPhone, but a bit faster. This is important because other tablet makers, like HP, are using netbook-class hardware specs to outfit their devices, and as a netbook owner and user, I can almost guarantee that speed will be an issue with those devices.
  4. It’s thinner than any book I publish or would use in my practice.
  5. I would carry this around because it isn’t a computer. It’s a “multi-thing.” Like fire. See my last post for that reference.
  6. A simple .epub book would look fantastic on this device. I have been a hater of the page-turning metaphor as a means of helping us adapt to this device. But after seeing it’s implementation, I was blown away. I’m not saying I’m a total convert, but damn. My books will look sexy in iBooks. And they will be more functional, which is weird to me.
  7. Gmail’s HTML5 web app is an example of why legal publishers will migrate to the standard for delivering web content. You have to use it to understand. I’m leaning towards wanting to deliver content via an HTML5 web app rather than a stand alone iPad app or through iBook (via iTunes). Programming simpler. Check. Delivery across multiple platforms. Check. Looks awesome on an iPad. Check. Learning curve flat. Check. Pure awesomeness. Check.
  8. Lawyers will “get it” faster than they did with the iPhone. It took roughly three years before I started seeing 40 to 50% of lawyers (solos and small to mid-size firms; biglaw I think is stuck with legacy systems, except the really cool ones) carrying an iPhone. I think the iPad breaks records with these folks when they start popping up in courtrooms, at depos, and at conferences. When you see how lawyers and librarians are using this device, you’ll justify the expense. I don’t even have one yet, and I’ve already imagined five different lawyer apps I’d like to see developed for it (the screen real estate and multi-touch changes the equation drastically for me). The productivity aspects of this thing are pretty remarkable, largely because you don’t look like a total nerd carrying one around. People sort of expect you to have it on your person.
  9. It is a tool. Like a book, I found myself walking around the office with the MAGICAL DEVICE, reading, flipping pages, thinking. I treated (regarded) it as a book more than as a device. This was strange, yet familiar.
  10. Whatever you spend, the MAGICAL DEVICE does more than assist you professionally. A laptop or netbook can do certain things, but I don’t think we would ever say those things are “fun.” The MAGICAL DEVICE has the potential for fun, which is why you will own it. And if you own it, then which came first: the fun or the work? Doesn’t matter to me because I just want you to buy my content to be consumed on the MAGICAL DEVICE (assuring, of course, you find tremendous value in my content and believe it is being offered at ridiculously reasonable prices).
  11. The Man purse. Male lawyers and librarians will need to get comfortable with this item as a fashion accessory.

These are just some of the impressions I formed after using the iPad for about 20 minutes. If you own one now, I’d be curious to hear how you think the MAGICAL DEVICE might change our practice. I know it will change the way I consume legal content.

[Image (cc) by realname]

{ 2 comments }

jasnwilsn April 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

"TreePub," I like the term as a means of distinguishing the two. As for PDF readers, I really thought the PadNotes demo looked quite good. There was a lot to the app that made me think, "Yes, this is exactly what I should be able to do with a PDF document." I'll be interested in trying it out on my MAGICAL DEVICE.

Your point about divvying up commentaries from rules and statutes is an interesting. We don't consume the content the same electronically as we do in print, so perhaps it's worth exploring the idea of two different interfaces for it. This is probably why HTML5 works better in the long run because it seems extensible enough to cover both uses.

jasnwilsn April 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Thorne,

I agree with you on the standards issue, but when moving into the mobile space, I don't think you can ignore the gizmo. What the gizmo is capable of doing (and how you interact with it) is very important to completing your requirements document. If all the devices operated the same, then it wouldn't be a big deal. But the MAGICAL DEVICE is not like the Kindle, Sony e-Reader, or B&N Nook. It won't be like HP's Windows 7 Slate. So I can figure out how I want you to interact with my books, but I also have to take into consideration what the hardware and OS is capable of doing.

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