$175 Book vs. $19.99 App: Trying Out Phaidon Design Classics for the iPad

The three-volume, 10-inch thick Phaidon Design Classics books can double as an end table, but as reference material it isn’t the most convenient tome to page through. That’s why a slightly cheaper, smaller version was released last year. But you may not need those 3,300 yellow-bound pages at all now that there’s an iPad app featuring all 1,000 iconic design projects–from the paperclip to Lockheed’s SR-71 Blackbird.

The app may still be in its infancy since search and shuffle features were not yet working for us. Plus the content only displays in landscape mode, there’s no portrait viewing option at all.

But overall the app is very pretty–what do you expect from Phaidon?–and there’s a really nice effect when you flip pages, like slatted vertical blinds turning over.

Worth $19.99? Not yet. Especially due to the lack of sharing features, or any kind of community-driven applications, which would be ideal. How about some buttons to post this Opinel Knife to your Facebook page, or Tweet this Michael Graves teakettle, for example? Until Phaidon enables search and sharing functions, you’re better off purchasing the $175 three-book set that comes equipped with handy analog indexing. Otherwise, it might be a handy tool for design students who could use it as a quick reference guide in the field. But let’s be serious: What design student can afford an iPad?