The Magic of Reality – a quick review of the iPad version of Richard Dawkin’s book

I had originally posted my quick review of the iPad ebook/app version of Richard Dawkins book “The Magic of reality”  in the iTunes  store a few days ago (late October) but, for whatever reason, the review has not shown up there. I have therefore taken the opportunity to post that review here albeit with this preface. The review is not so much a critique of the message of the book (which I found brilliant) but more to do with the mechanics of the implementation of this ebook version.

The ebook/app was released on 23 September 2011, and is at version 1.

Tue 01-11-11 20-13-40

This is a fantastic book/app. I thoroughly recommend this for its primary audience, children, but also for the young adult in their mid-teen to late teen years. It is clearly written and has interactive media that engages a young person’s mind.

However, there are a few elements with regards to the implementation of this version (the first edition to hit the iPad) that could be improved upon, and I have listed these issues below in the hopes that the publisher takes action to improve the book/app in future editions.

  1. There is no dictionary or thesaurus look-up. Implementation of this feature would allow a young person to more easily explore new words.
  2. There is no bookmarking feature and I can’t seem to go directly to specific chapters. I sometimes like to bookmark certain pages or go direct to certain chapters so that I can read them again later. It is extremely tedious to scroll through the book’s contents to find something specific that you want to read again.
  3. There are no page numbers. On the iPad, page numbers should be easy to implement. I do like to make reference to chapters and page numbers.
  4. I found at least on section of text referring to a diagram “below” when the diagram was elsewhere. I assume that this is just an error (it probably is correct in the printed version).
  5. The interactive diagram illustrating the sun size and how it fits into the galaxy appears five pages before the text that refers to it. The two should be closer.
  6. The diagram with the two prisms, a slit, and red light at the second prism seems incorrect. I think the slit needs to be turned through 90 degrees.
  7. There was a section on the spectrograph which mentions a website; what website?
  8. The text uses a mixture of metric an imperial measurements for distances e.g. miles, kilometres, etc. It needs to stick to metric (although I can see that metric measurements might be an issue with readers from the USA).
  9. The interactive diagram for continental drift is great but, probably due to the projection used, the size of continents changes significantly when moving between equatorial and polar regions. For example, look at the sizes of Greenland and India; they change considerably! This can cause puzzlement to the young reader. I would suggest using a globe projection (such as used by Google Earth) to minimise these size distortions.
  10. The diagram of the cross-section of Earth says “tre-acle”. This needs to be corrected.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2011