Starting even before it was launched, the iPad has been widely viewed as a savior for traditional publishing, and especially for magazines, with its rich multitouch interface and its potential for the seamless mixing of text and pictures. So it’s not surprisinig that magazines have been in the lead in touting the iPad, as in Newsweek’s “What’s so great about the iPad?” cover story at left.

One simple, easy-to-overlook, reason for the iPad-magazine connection is the iPad display screen’s 4:3 aspect ratio (the ratio of the width of the image to its height). Many popular magazines (like Newsweek) have this same 4:3 aspect ratio, making them an excellent fit for the iPad.

The 4:3 aspect ratio is not a new one for computer displays — it was common before 2003, when it was mostly replaced by a 16:9 ratio — but what is new on the iPad is that it’s seen as being used primarily in portrait mode — like magazines & books — instead of the usual landscape orientation of computer displays.

Do the Math: The actual size of the iPad display screen is 7.75″ x 5.83″. The actual size of Newsweek is 10.5″ x 7.9.”

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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