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by Eric P. Jackson

Reading & the iPad

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've had some sort of contact with an individual who owns and loves their iPad. The people I know who have an iPad tend to use it daily to perform a variety of tasks; anything from sending and receiving email to surfing the web to hurling Angry Birds at pigs.

Those who don't yet own an iPad, and even those who do, tend to ask me about my favorite apps and how I use it. I'm a bit of an information junkie and I'll bet many of you are too. I have no desire to add to the "Apps Everyone Should Have" articles available everywhere else. So here I'll reveal my "system" for finding, consuming and archiving digital information using the iPad.

1. Download the Kindle App, $FREE

I tell anyone who will listen that I don't buy books any more...at least the paper variety. Frankly, I love the feel of holding a book and turning its pages. Unfortunately for Mr. Traditional Book, I despise carting his flabby and fragile carcass around in the off chance I'll crack him open and read.

Forget all that mess. Download the Kindle app and kick the paper habit. Imagine having ALL your books on one device, all ready for you to read (and make notes) on a whim. Furthermore, all those notes and highlights I've made to my books are easy to find, unlike the traditional kind. You can even synchronize your book purchases with your other Kindle devices.

"But the iPad, it hurts my eyes" whimpers the ninny. Please, spare me. The Kindle app enables you to dim the screen in case you're reading in complete darkness. Your excuses are wearing thin.

2. Buy TweetBot, $2.99

In case you haven't already figured it out, TweetBot is a Twitter app. Not on Twitter? Seriously? Yeah, I get that you don't want to know what your idiot niece had for lunch, nobody really cares about that stuff. But what if you had access to breaking news from every important news organization across the globe? Still no sale? How about access to thought and opinion leaders in your industry, politics, finance, technology, entertainment, education, heavy metal music, cycling, Justin Beiber...ok, maybe not that, but you get the picture. Anything is out there. And TONS of intelligent information that you wouldn't be able to collect on your own if you had no job and hired a staff of lackeys to do nothing but collect information for you.

So now that you're on Twitter, purchase TweetBot. In my opinion, it's the easiest to use Twitter app available for the iPad...and it's really designed for the iPad. Read tweets, retweet, 'favorite' tweets...it'll do it all. You can even manage your Twitter lists, enabling you to group information according to interest. You can even save articles you find in Twitter to Instapaper.

And while we're on the topic of "designed for the iPad," you'll notice that while many articles you'll find on Twitter are easy to read, many are not. It will also enable you to click on a tweet and add it to "InstaPaper."

3. Buy Instapaper, $2.99

Ever wished you had a simple way to save articles you find on the web, but read them on your own time and in a format that is actually easy to read and not in some small typeface? Instapaper is for you. When you're reading that article you don't have time to finish, simply use the Instapaper bookmark and your article is magically sent to your Instapaper account for reading later.

Furthermore, Instapaper changes the formatting so they're easy to read, more like a book. Synchronize your iPad Instapaper account before getting on that international flight and bam!, you've got reading material from the web without having to sell a kidney to use the in-flight Internet connection. Instapaper also has apps for other platforms (for those Android people out there) and you can read your saved articles on their website too if you wish.

4. Get Flipboard, $FREE

Flipboard describes itself as "Beautifully designed for iPad and iPhone, Flipboard creates a personalized magazine out of everything being shared with you. Flip through your Facebook newsfeed, tweets from your Twitter timeline, photos from Instagram friends, sounds from SoundCloud and much more." 

And much more is right. Scores of magazines, websites and newspapers such as USA Today, LA Times, Politico, Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Atlantic, The Economist, ESPN, Rolling Stone, Motor Trend, Bicycling (my bias here), all are formatted and ready to read using Flipbook. And more are added weekly. Simply setup your Flipboard account, choose your favorite reads and start devouring content, delivered right to you.

What's more is, you can view the same sources on the iPhone (or Android device)...simply login and sync your account! You can even retweet articles (and tweets), favorite items, add them to your Instapaper account for reading later, make comments on Facebook pages and "heart" Instagram photos. The most recent update even added Google+ to the mix.

So there you have it - how to consume digital content with ease. Now that I go back and read, this article is rather long. Guess I'll have to save it to Instapaper if I want to read it again.