I don't normally pay a lot of attention to the iTunes updates that get emailed to me; I'm still too fond of physical media, for reasons ranging from security to tactile appreciation to appreciation for things like liner notes. The indication that the first novel in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, Casino Royale, was available as a free download for the iBooks app did catch my eye, however. As any right-thinking adolescent male would be, I'm a bit of a Bond afficionado, but I've never read any of the books, nor made any use of the iBooks app.
Before even getting to the content, however, I was struck by the stylish cover designs, presented in a brilliantly consistent "007" motif, with striking colours and minimalist elements conveying the specifics of the particular adventure. A bowler hat centered on gradiated gold for Goldfinger, or a silhouetted martini resting on the back of a playing card, itself surround by the green baize of a baccarat table for Casino Royale.
The iBooks app uses an ersatz bookshelf to display the books in your collection, similar to the manner in which your magazine subscriptions are displayed in the Newsstand app where my Maclean's subscription resides. The urge to throw more Bond books on that shelf based purely on aesthetics and a collector's compulsion to fill shelf space wherever possible is undeniable, and I imagine the recent relocation of the Bond collection into the public domain (at least in Canada) is the reason behind the $1.99 pricing that makes this dangerously accessible.
Reading the books on the iPad seems comfortable enough; crisp, scaleable type, and a brisk page-turning animation that adds familiarity without being too distracting.
When I was waiting for Fenya to come out of her rehearsal last night, I turned the app on to read a few pages in the parking lot of The Jube, and was delighted when the iPad sensed the lack of ambient light in my darkened vehicle, and automatically switched the pages from black-on-white to white-on-black. I'm about a third of the way in, and have found the reading comfortable and intuitive thus far.
As to the novel itself, well, it's a little early to tell, but book-Bond is clearly quite a bit colder and more manipulative than his movie counterpart, but no less suave.