Using the iPad for Scholarship

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JHS Article in Kindle

I have been using my iPad for a little over a year now and it has become an indispensable tool for reading and research. About a year ago I wrote “Top Bible Apps for the iPad” on Reading Acts, and it remains a good starting place for people looking to use their iPad for Biblical Studies. The Bible Apps I review then have all been upgraded over the last year, but the functionality is about the same.

In the last year I find myself using my iPad to read not only books but also journal articles from databases as well as proofing things I have written. Although my experience is on the iPad, these tips will work for an Android device as well. Since much of what I say here concerns the Kindle App on the iPad it is all applicable toa real Kindle device.

The first tool you need to get is the Kindle app from the iTunes store. This is a free download, Amazon gives away the reader to tempt you into buying books. This strategy certainly worked on me since Amazon usually has a “deal of the day.”  I have picked up a remarkable number of good books free (or cheap) for reading with the Kindle App. When you register your Kindle app, Amazon will assign you a Kindle email address. You should make a note of this address and authorize your own personal email under the “Manage your Devices” tab in the Kindle store.

The second tool you need is the Send to Kindle app from Amazon (Windows and Mac versions are available). Once you install this app, you can right-click on a file and send it to your Kindle email address. You can send a number of different formats, including PDF and DOC. Assuming that you have authorized your own email, the file will appear on your Kindle, or iPad Kindle App, as a book which can be read as any other Kindle book. If you send a DOC file you can highlight and annotate, but PDF’s cannot be highlighted or annotated at this time.

Reading Acts in Kindle

Another handy tool for reading on a Kindle is a Chrome extension, Send to Kindle. This little extension works in the Chrome browser and will send a web page to your Kindle for reading later. I use this for longer web-pages or to archive a biblioblog that I think I may need later. These HTML pages are converted to a PDF format and can be highlighted or annotated with the Kindle.

I use my iPad for most often for reading journal articles. Using the ATLA database through our library, I find an article of interest and send the PDF to my email. I can either copy it to my DropBox or send it to my Kindle as described above. Prior to buying an iPad, I either read the article online, or printed it for future reference. Anyone who has written a dissertation knows that you end up with a small forest of printed papers when researching, by reading on my iPad I save some time and money by not printing out articles. I sometimes send several articles on a topic to my Kindle app and head off to a coffee shop. Naturally this method will work with any online database that allows students to save files for offline reading.

There are other readers available, including Google Books, CloudReader, Bluefire Reader, Stanza and (of course) iBooks, but my preference at this point is the Kindle reader. All of these readers are really front-ends for online book stores and they all have nearly the same functionality. If you want to transfer PDF files to one of these other readers, I recommend using DropBox. Copy the PDF to your DropBox folder, then select it on your device, and choose a program from the “open with” menu. Alternatively, you can copy the files using iTunes.

I should mention that the Bluefire Reader allows you to read DRM-protected Adobe Digital documents. This is necessary for reading galley proofs from publishers from services like NetGalley. If you have an Adobe ID, you can authorize Bluefire to read your secure books.

Kostenberger in Logos, with Notes

I use the Logos Bible App daily. It is the best app for reading books, although the books must be purchased through the Logos or Vyrso store. There is no import function for Kindle books or other e-reader formats at this time. While this seems like a negative, the Logos Library is rich in material for biblical studies. If a book is available in Logos and Kindle, I will always choose Logos version. This is primarily because Logos books have real page numbers (not “locations”) and the footnotes appear at the bottom of the page you are currently reading. Logos has an excellent note-taking system with a wide variety of highlighting features. Notes I make on my iPad are automatically saved online, and they are immediately available on my desktop version of Logos.  I have several notes files for various topics (Gospel of John, for example), and as I read I add highlights and annotations.  I can cut  and paste these notes into my word processor when I am reading to write.

These tools will get you reading on your iPad, in the next installment, I will comment on a few note-taking programs for the iPad.