Book Review: There's a Book for That

Vol. 1, No. 1

Reviewed by

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the law firm of Graves & Allen with a general practice that, since 1973, has emphasized negotiation, structuring, and documentation of real estate acquisitions, loans and other business transactions, receiverships, related litigation, and bankruptcy. Graves & Allen is a small firm in Oakland, California. Mr. Allen also works extensively as an arbitrator and a mediator. He serves as the editor-in-chief and the Technology Editor of GPSolo magazine and the GPSolo eReport and as a member of the Board of Editors of the Journal. Mr. Allen regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for attorneys and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, he has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He is an associate professor at California State University East Bay and the University of Phoenix. You can contact him via e-mail at jallenlawtek@aol.com. Mr. Allen also blogs on technology at www.jallenlawtekblog.com.

 

So, you went out and bought yourself a new iPad 2 and have not figured out how to use it . . . Not to worry: after all, the ad says, “There’s an app for that!” Well, while it may prove true that you can find an app for almost everything in the Apple App Store, I have not found a good app for teaching you how to use the iPad 2. The closest that I have found are apps that turn your iPad into an eReader that will let you read electronic versions of books about how to get the most out of your iPad.

 

In truth, using the iPad to read a book about the iPad proves a less than satisfying experience if, like me, you like to try things out as you read about them. You have to keep leaving the book, going someplace else in the iPad, and then returning to the book. You won’t find the practice very efficient or very satisfying.

 

It turns out that in some cases you advance your cause faster by acquiring the old-fashioned book and going through it with your iPad in hand. That way you can read and experiment, a process that I find teaches the iPad much more easily than trying to use the iPad as a reader and trying to learn the iPad all at the same time. On the other hand, as you can get electronic versions, you may want to consider getting an electronic version so that you can easily (and weightlessly) carry it with you to look at when you get a free minute or two. Yet another possibility: carry the an electronic version on your smartphone and use that together with your iPad.

 

If you had the original iPad or even an iPhone, you probably won’t need much help learning how to pilot your iPad 2. If you lack experience, you may find yourself floundering a bit. If so, or if you simply wish to master the iPad in the least possible time, forget looking for an app and buy a book. As luck would have it, you can find a book for that!

 

In fact, I found three that I rather like: iPad 2: The Missing Manual by J.D. Biersdorfer (O’Reilly) $24.99 (299 pages); My New iPad 2 by Wallace Wang (No Starch Press) $24.95 (255 pages); and The iPad In One Hour for Lawyers by Tom Mighell (American Bar Association) $34.95 (104 pages). You can also get all three books in electronic versions for substantially less than the cost of hard copy. I should also tell you that I found discounted pricing for the paper copy of the Biersdorfer and Wang books online, but not for the Mighell book. Each of the books has something to offer, although I do not think you will really want to get all three of them.

 

The Wang and Biersdorfer books focus on the iPad 2, but cover the original iPad as well. The Mighell book focuses on the original iPad, but most of the information transfers to the iPad 2. Its claim to fame is that it focuses on the attorney as a user and provides information as to apps that may prove particularly useful to attorneys seeking to use the iPad in their practices.

 

All three books will prove most helpful to the novice user, but each contains information and tips that experienced iPad jockeys will find helpful. Unless you have truly mastered the iPad, I suspect that you will learn something from any and all of these books.

 

The Wang and the Biersdorfer texts give you a broader and deeper background in the iPad and its functions. The Mighell book gives you a more sharply honed focus on use by attorneys. The Mighell book is designed to get you up and running very quickly, while the Biersdorfer and Wang treatises will teach you more about the iPad’s general functionality. All three will tell you about worthwhile app acquisitions; but only the Mighell book focuses you on apps designed primarily for use by attorneys. In truth, I have any number of apps on my iPad one or another (or all) of the books did not discuss. That should not come as a surprise as books have a static existence and the App Store has a dynamic inventory that changes daily. Accordingly, any book attempting to identify apps starts to go out of date before it ever gets printed. That does not mean it does not make good suggestions. Some of the first apps I acquired remain among the most useful and or my favorites.

 

So, which book do you get? It depends on your experience and your goals. If you just want a quick start guide and/or tips on lawyer-style apps, get Mighell’s book. If you want to become Master or Mistress of the iPad, go with Biersdorfer’s or Wang’s book. You will find both highly informative and reasonably well written. I consider the production quality of the Biersdorfer book superior (better quality paper and printing, therefore easier to read). I think it is also somewhat better organized. On the other hand, the Wang book seems to provide more detail in its discussions of many topics.

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