If owning an ipad comes up in conversation, I am very quick to mention the Libby app. I believe this is the successor to the Overdrive app, but it is an access point to local library’s digital content. For example, the Chicago Public Library has an amazing catalog of great magazines, movies, audiobooks and regular old ebooks. Magazines is what I love about this the most, I think it’s pretty great to have regular access anytime to the most recent issues of titles like Wired, Guardian Weekly, Popular Science, Bon Appétit, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Newsweek, Macworld and pretty much any other subject you are interested in. To my knowledge, the magazines don’t have the same, if any, restriction on the number of copies or licenses the library has access to, because I have never had to “get in line” or wait any amount of time to borrow a digital magazine.
The layout and design of the app itself is pretty great too. You can flip through the print layout like you would imagine swiping through and zooming in on a PDF of the magazine would be, but they also have a button to isolate just the text an images of each article in a single column, making it extremely comfortable to read no matter the artistic license they took to layout the article. I find the iPhone/smartphone app is pretty comfortable on its own, but I’d be lying if I said the ipad app wasn’t part of the reason I wanted trade in my old MacBook Pro for an iPad. There’s a handy little “finger print breadcrumb” button that is basically a history browser of the pages you’ve looked at if you’ve jumped through the magazine non-linearly. And there is a table of contents menu to browse and jump to different articles, just like you would through a print magazine.
Basically, I’m very impressed by the experience of this and the thought that went into it. I love how focused the medium of magazines can get, and I think it’s pretty amazing to have access to this many publications and the experience the Libby app gives is the icing on the cake. I do still love reading print magazines and spending and afternoon in a bookstore, but when that luxury isn’t always available, this is the next best thing.