I know some people who are wild about their iPhones. I happen to love my iPod Touches--all three of them. So perhaps it's not all that surprising that I should find myself holding three different volumes explaining the wonders of this miniature marvel. It may not have the talking capabilities of the iPhone (though there are apps that permit "long distance spoken conversation" on an iPod), but the Touch may be the better for it. Consistently, publications like "MacWorld" rate the iPod Touch (all 3 sizes) a full 4 stars while denying half a star to Apple's other products.
The three books are remarkably similar. They all cover the most recent iPod Touch (4th generation running iOS5): they're all relatively heavy books with a generous number of thick, glossy pages; two of the texts, or "Portable Genius" volumes, are published by Wiley. So apart from price, the question is: which one?
Here are the three leading candidates along with some suggestions intended to aid the selection process:
1. "My iPod Touch," 3rd Edition, by Brad Miser, a 2012 publication by Que. My iPod touch (covers iPod touch running iOS 5) (3rd Edition) At 540 pages this is certainly the biggest and most thorough volume of the three. Though not the best "traveling companion," this volume has a slight edge not merely in terms of information but in the quality of its illustrations, with a wide spectrum of colors on virtually every page, ranging from solid colors for illustrations to various hues for highlighting. Miser begins with the assumption that the Touch is like a computer. Connecting to the internet and transferring your documents, audio files, photos and videos on to your pocket-rocket are among the first matters he takes up.
2 "iPod & iTunes Portable Genius," 3rd Edition, by Jesse David Hollington, a 2012 publication by Wiley. At 364 pages this entry is in the "middleweight" category, certainly more portable than Miser's book (above) but not as compact as McFedries' book (below). Hollington's book, which I've reviewed elsewhere iPod and iTunes Portable Genius will appeal to analytic minds that prefer to get the "whole picture"--the paradigm--before proceeding to the individual parts and functions of the iPod. Its expanded section on iTunes is a big plus, since the program has never been more critical to, and integrated with, the operation of an Apple product.
Which brings us to the present book:
3. "iPod Touch Portable Genius," by Paul McFedries," a 2012 publication by Wiley. At 296 pages this is the "most" portable of these three books, none of which will come close to fitting in a rear pants pocket (recalling one of Amazon's ads for the Kindle). It's also the most user-friendly and inviting, especially to any Touch owner who has had little to no previous experience with the iPod. Rather than start with the overall scheme of the device or the big picture in terms of the cloud and internet, McFedries adopts the role of an average person picking up an attractive device for the first time and proceeding to touch and play with the apps on the gadget.
Of all three books, McFedries comes closest to writing a narrative, inviting the reader to join him on a journey that the author has just completed and can't wait to repeat. As a consequence, McFedries communicates his sheer enthusiasm about the machine in a way that's contagious. It's also an invitation to join the author in a fascinating adventure. Whereas the other two books both make excellent "reference" books, allowing the iPod owner to look up information about a specific property of the Touch whenever a question or problem arises, McFedries' book is equivalent to the empirical, inductive, step-by-step learning process of thousands of typical Apple "geeks," none of whom would admit to "reading the manual." It's a more hand-holding approach than the other guides, one that will no doubt appeal to (and benefit) the greater share of readers.
[One minor gripe: both of the Wiley books (2 and 3 above) use periodic blue boxes as a type of marginalia device for inserting "do's," "don'ts," and "cautions." Each of the blue boxes in both books is "washed out" in the area of the first sentence at the top of the box. None is unreadable, but I soon found this technical glitch distracting if not irritating.]