Using advanced (read: 4th-grade-level) mathematics, we have concluded that the iPad Mini will be used by smart people/awful snobs.
So today is the day of the iPad Mini announcement, probably. I tried to do a story about what small tablets are better at than big tablets, aside from costing fewer dollars, but the only thing I could come up with was book-reading. And then I wondered: which would be better at book-reading, a 7-inch tablet like the Kindle Fire, or a 7.85-inch tablet like the presumed iPad Mini?
The Dumbest Argument Paperback books come in a few different sizes. In the UK, that's locked up down to the millimeter, which is very useful for the dumb purposes of this article, but I am not British and neither is the iPad so let's set those nice numbers aside and look at good wholesome American books. American paperbacks come in two rough sizes: mass-market paperbacks and trade paperbacks. There's no real standard of size for either of those, but, roughly, mass-market paperbacks are the little guys, about 4 x 7 inches. If you're at the airport and you buy a Robert Ludlum book, or whoever is writing Robert Ludlum stories who is not Robert Ludlum these days, you're getting a mass-market paperback. Those books are the cheapest of all book formats--they're big sellers but often not very prestigious, and made with the cheapest materials (thin paper, crappy glue, not a lot of money spent on cover art, that kind of thing).
Then there's the trade paperback. If you're buying a book that's been nominated for a Pulitzer, you've got a trade paperback. They're bigger, more luxurious, and more expensive than the mass-market. There's no standard size, but I measured a dozen or so of the trade paperbacks I own and the average size was around 5.5 x 8.5 inches. So how does that compare to these gadgets which will be used in large part for reading books?
Remembering that the proposed iPad Mini would have a 7.85-inch (diagonal) screen, and assuming it has the same ratio of width to height as the original iPad--which has a 9.7-inch diagonal, 5.82 x 7.76-inch screen--we figured out with some basic geometry that the iPad Mini will have a 4.71 x 6.28-inch screen.
A 7-inch-diagonal, 16:9 screen like the Kindle Fire, which has a 3.43 x 6.1 inch screen, is barely shorter than the iPad Mini--less than two tenths of an inch--but is significantly narrower. In total area the iPad Mini and the Kindle Fire would be both much more comparable to a mass-market paperback, but if we look at the book industry, it's really the ratio that's important, rather than the size. If you inflated a mass-market paperback to be the same height as a trade paperback, the trade would still be much wider.
I have discovered the secret to classy rectangles, you guys. Wide rectangles are classier than narrow rectangles.
Math: In this case, the smaller the number is, the wider the rectangle is, and thus, the classier the device/book and its users/readers are. A mass-market paperback has a ratio of 1.75. A trade? 1.55. Trade = classier.
The Kindle Fire has a ratio of 1.78. The new iPad Mini has a ratio of 1.33. And thus, according to the transitive property of the dumbest argument ever, the iPad Mini's width makes it classier than its 7-inch competitors. Classier than a classy book, even.
My conclusion: the iPad Mini will be for literary snobs, and the Kindle Fire will be for dumb-dumbs who read airport garbage books. Kindle Fire owners will read E.L. James, and iPad Mini owners will read E.L. Doctorow. You heard it here first.