So today is the day of the iPad Mini announcement, probably. I tried to do a story about what small tablets are better at than big tablets, aside from costing fewer dollars, but the only thing I could come up with was book-reading. And then I wondered: which would be better at book-reading, a 7-inch tablet like the Kindle Fire, or a 7.85-inch tablet like the presumed iPad Mini?
The Dumbest Argument
Paperback books come in a few different sizes. In the UK, that's locked up down to the millimeter, which is very useful for the dumb purposes of this article, but I am not British and neither is the iPad so let's set those nice numbers aside and look at good wholesome American books. American paperbacks come in two rough sizes: mass-market paperbacks and trade paperbacks. There's no real standard of size for either of those, but, roughly, mass-market paperbacks are the little guys, about 4 x 7 inches. If you're at the airport and you buy a Robert Ludlum book, or whoever is writing Robert Ludlum stories who is not Robert Ludlum these days, you're getting a mass-market paperback. Those books are the cheapest of all book formats--they're big sellers but often not very prestigious, and made with the cheapest materials (thin paper, crappy glue, not a lot of money spent on cover art, that kind of thing).
Then there's the trade paperback. If you're buying a book that's been nominated for a Pulitzer, you've got a trade paperback. They're bigger, more luxurious, and more expensive than the mass-market. There's no standard size, but I measured a dozen or so of the trade paperbacks I own and the average size was around 5.5 x 8.5 inches. So how does that compare to these gadgets which will be used in large part for reading books?
Remembering that the proposed iPad Mini would have a 7.85-inch (diagonal) screen, and assuming it has the same ratio of width to height as the original iPad--which has a 9.7-inch diagonal, 5.82 x 7.76-inch screen--we figured out with some basic geometry that the iPad Mini will have a 4.71 x 6.28-inch screen.
A 7-inch-diagonal, 16:9 screen like the Kindle Fire, which has a 3.43 x 6.1 inch screen, is barely shorter than the iPad Mini--less than two tenths of an inch--but is significantly narrower. In total area the iPad Mini and the Kindle Fire would be both much more comparable to a mass-market paperback, but if we look at the book industry, it's really the ratio that's important, rather than the size. If you inflated a mass-market paperback to be the same height as a trade paperback, the trade would still be much wider.
I have discovered the secret to classy rectangles, you guys. Wide rectangles are classier than narrow rectangles.
Math: In this case, the smaller the number is, the wider the rectangle is, and thus, the classier the device/book and its users/readers are. A mass-market paperback has a ratio of 1.75. A trade? 1.55. Trade = classier.
The Kindle Fire has a ratio of 1.78. The new iPad Mini has a ratio of 1.33. And thus, according to the transitive property of the dumbest argument ever, the iPad Mini's width makes it classier than its 7-inch competitors. Classier than a classy book, even.
My conclusion: the iPad Mini will be for literary snobs, and the Kindle Fire will be for dumb-dumbs who read airport garbage books. Kindle Fire owners will read E.L. James, and iPad Mini owners will read E.L. Doctorow. You heard it here first.
I'm so glad I wasted my time reading this... It all once again come's down to: People who are willing to sell their soul to Apple, will once again, do just that.
Sadly, I read haywall's comment first and then desided to give the article the benefit of the doubt and a chance of an intersting read. I regret that decision. This article, as it suggests, was writting by a 4th grader. I am now dumber for having read it. Guess I need to buy a Kindle Fire now.
Agreed. This is the worst article I have read on popsci. This is not science. This is some stupid apple advertisement.
I tried my best to warn everyone :)
" ... that's locked up down to the millimeter,..." I wonder if a better sentence could been written, up down, what?
And to the size of who reads what, who cares. I am just happy people are reading!! What ever makes a person comfortable to their situation works for me and I respect that people are just different.
Books, or electronic reading in what ever displayed format is "Vitamins for the brain!" KEEP READING!
I didn't think it was bad. I "got" it. But, for those of you still grousing ... you can cut & past this:
What you've just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this blog is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
They are both pieces of poo!
I want Popsci to pull this article from their site. The article is demeaning and insulting.
This is a hilarious article. The comments are even more hilarious. I hadn't realized that subtlety in humor was a crime. More than one Popsci reader needs to get out more.
Usually subtle humor is funny, maybe that's how people missed it.
HAHAHAHA! OldTech! "The article is demeaning and insulting." Jesus man, you need to relax. Clearly you nerds need to lighten up a little.
I might actually buy an iPad mini. I'm not a fan of larger tablets,
Whatever helps, assist and motivates people to read, I am happy!
GO READERS! Fill up those brains with knowledge!
People with their wits about them prefer a ratio of 1.65 so they use the Nexus 7. Pseudo-intellectuals end up taking it too far thus the 1.33 ratio iPad Mini. And dumb-dumbs are on the other end of the spectrum at 1.75 with a Kindle Fire.
dear zombie jesus.... that really was a dumb argument...
The idea that we can judge a person reading tastes by the size of the book they're holding is pretty shitty. So, if I'm reading a mass market paperback version of Red Sorghum by Nobel Prize winning author Mo Yan and the person next to me has a trade paperback version of Twilight, they have better reading tastes? What?
The format in which a book is released has more to do with popularity and the willingness of buyers to pay more for it than the quality of the author's writing... aka marketing. This is why books by Mo Yan were first released in mass market format in Western markets prior to his Nobel nomination, and in hardcover/trade paperback since then.
In fact, if a publisher is truly confident about the saleability of their book they will release it as a hardcover first since this is the format preferred by award committees. After a month or two (or sometimes concurrently) they will release a trade paperback version with their awards printed on the cover. In either case, any popular book will be released in a mass market version as soon as trade paperback sales start to dwindle.
To sum up, even Pulitzer winners and nominees like E.L Doctorow's Billy Bathgate and The March (to use an example from the author) are available in mass market versions.
One of the best articles I've read on PopSci in a while, especially for the comments it inspired. Nicely done.
This article was a great public service. I immediately threw out my Kindle and bought an iPad. I feel much smarter already, and I have even started buying more expensive wines.
*cough* Last week I ordered a Kindle Fire from Amazon. The screen size is 8.9", not 7".
This may be the dumbest article I have read on Popsci yet and that is saying a lot considering the rapid decline recently in the selection of topics and quality article over the last couple of years. Is it just me or has Popsci become a cesspool for idiocracy. I mean really an entire article written about why the technology of an over-rated company is better because of an extra half inch or so of screen size. This is ridiculous and the author should be ashamed to even call this journalism. It is simply a piece of sycophantic worship to Apple tech. I am not saying that I am a fan of kindle fire but I am not so naive to judge it entire by an aesthetic benchmark. I would compare the two based on their capabilities, reliability, functionality, cost, and of course as always how they look can play role.
I sincerely hope the Popsci publishers are viewing this and other comments of other guest because we are starting to get sick of your degrading selection of subjects. I personally used to read every couple of days and now have limited myself to once a week and most times I don't even read any articles just the titles. Popsci articles years ago used to be about explaining ground-breaking science and the impact it will play on our lives. Articles were framed in a way that taught people science without making them feel inferior and brought a sense of wonderment and excitement about the type of advancements that might become a part of our lives. In the simplest sense it seemed to make science fiction real. Being a scientist myself, having my work be exciting enough to appear in Popsci used to seem alluring but now even if I were noticed I would probably refuse to be interviewed as I would be associated with the large volume of junk like that in this article. To the popsci staff, wake up and get your heads out of the trash can of science and technology. Go back to reporting exclusively on quality science and quality reviews of technology or you will start losing real scientist and engineers who even want to be interviewed about their work.
Wow, did you miss the point by about 180 degrees!
Thank goodness for Google and their Nexus tablets
On a hunch, I just checked the author of that wacky hurricane climate change hit piece and low-and-behold, it is the same Dan Nosowitz. PopSci needs to get rid of this guy pronto.
Ive read a few articles that Dan Nosowitz has written. He probably is a young guy, just graduated from school with writing that is pretty much superficial. This is quite dangerous for some people as they will definitely get misled, but perhaps the lucky ones will see this false veneer of stupidity and maybe ignore those articles and ideas. Lets face it there are a lot of pre-madonnas and stupid people out there and popsci just like any other company has stupid people working for it. They cant fire ALL the stupid people or else they would loose 80% of their workforce! =/
nexus 7 indeed, and rooted! guess thats a happy medium? and of course android :o)
My appologies to popsci and Dan for my derogatory comments above. Im sure Dan has written a lot of articles on here that were good and humorous in the past. Popsci does have some excellent writers (ie Rebecca boyle, Jennifer Abbasi) but like EVERY OTHER COMPANY also has some really bad employees that they havent located yet (because they also have really really bad managers) so I dont fault this one particular company. They are basically holding the status quo of humanity up. There will always be a few really good people and a LOT of really bad people. So Cheers to popsci for a website and magazine that keeps me informed and entertained.
But to all the stupid people I say..."Keep up the bad work. The idiot managers will help you and you will be safe!"
Oh why did I read this - why... It shows you that no one in this world has anything good to say anymore about anything. We are on a regurgitation path of doom. I don't care about the stereotypes of people who will choose one or the other for a electronic reader...please stop it - just stop it...
well...Time for a Square Tablet!!! The classiest thing in the universe!
gimmme_a_break: we are aware that some of the articles are not up to scratch but the writers are all capable of writing a really good article and for that we give them a chance.