I work with a lot of documents. By this I mean things one reads, usually mostly text and often PDF’s or Word docs. I always did, but especially now that I’ve been writing. I have drafts of my books, drafts of other peoples books, notes on them, peoples screenplays, programming manuals downloaded off the internet, etc. Books and other printed versions of documents have always been the nicest way to read or edit these things as you can sit somewhere comfortable and you can mark on them easily, but books take a long time to print. The two traditional solutions were:
1. Print it out, which takes a while and wastes paper.
2. Sit at your computer, which is uncomfortable.
The iPad changes the game because it makes it so easy to read these things. There are lots of ways to get your docs on the device, including just emailing a PDF to yourself and clicking “Save to iBooks.” But you can also use Dropbox. This free app allows you to drag files into a tree of folders on your computer and have them immediately accessible on any iPhone, iPad, or computer with a Dropbox client. You can read there or save to a better app.
Goodreader is a decent and cheap PDF/doc reader ($0.99), although for PDFs the free iBooks is great. Goodreader even allows you to do markup on top of the files and email out annotated PDFs. But the interface for this is a little clunky. For serious editing I use iAnnotate which admittedly is “expensive” for an iPad app ($9.99), but has a really slick interface for marking up documents. I’ve sat on my couch and highlighted, crossed out, edited 500 pages that way. If someone emails you a doc you can do it anywhere without even going to your computer, and no destroying a big hunk of tree for the ream of paper and toner needed to print. Not to mention that 500 pages of looseleaf is hardly convenient.
Basically if someone sent me a draft screenplay or something before I’d put off reading it because sitting at the computer was no fun. Now it’s no different than a published book — I read those on the iPad too.