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Review: TwelveSouth BookBook Cases for iPhone and iPad

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tl;dr - I have cases for my iPhone and iPad that look like old books and I like them.

There’s a little company in Charleston, South Carolina that makes things you’ll like. How do I know this? Because they make things I like. TwelveSouth is a groovy twelve person outfit down in the south that concentrates on doing one thing: building cool accessories for your Apple stuff. Their story is a fascinating one if you are interested in American entrepreneurship and the startup mentality, but I’m here to concentrate on what is perhaps their flagship product: the BookBook iPhone and iPad cases.

I came across the BookBook iPhone case first. I was at the Apple Store before my buddy Jason Nassi’s wedding, looking for a wallet style iPhone case. I wanted to keep a couple of credit cards, my license, and some money in one place along with my iPhone, since I was going to be gussied up in a tuxedo and my daily carry philosophy of “stuff your pockets full of shit” was NOT going to work. The BookBook immediately caught my eye, as it didn’t look like a typical “wallet”. It reminded me of a well worn copy of Machinery’s Handbook that I remember my grandfather owning, and for that reason alone I bought the case.

BookBook for iPhone The BookBook case for iPhone.

The BookBook performed absolutely great for what I bought it for. At this wedding, it let me carry the stuff I needed to have on me in one small, non-nerdly looking package. I particularly like the way it has a see thru slot for any identifying documents - that came in handy when getting carded for booze in Vegas.

BookBook for iPhone The BookBook for iPhone case, open, showing off my awesome picture.

The BookBook case for the iPhone really does cradle the phone and protect it, as well as holding a few cards for you. It’s not perfect, though, and I have a gripe or two. First, the folks at TwelveSouth didn’t put a hole for the camera in the back of the case of the BookBook. To use your phone’s camera while it’s in the case, you need to pull up on the red tab and inch it up out of the case so that the camera’s clear of the case. I understand that this isn’t ideal, aesthetically, but not having fast access to the camera is far from a functional ideal. I was able to fix this by using a leather punch to punch a hole in the case. Second, the leather of the case tends to leave oily streaks on the iPhone’s screen. Not a huge deal either, but you do need to clean your phone’s screen more often. Neither of these is a huge issue, though, and shouldn’t keep you from getting a BookBook for your iPhone if you need a unique wallet-style case.

BookBook for iPad BookBook for iPad

Moving on to the iPad version of the BookBook is a familiar,yet different experience. Just like its little brother, the bigger version of the BookBook case is well made from leather (or a very reasonable facsimile thereof),in a supersized McDonalds mega-meal kind of way. Unlike the iPhone version of the BookBook, the iPad case has a lining that mostly prevents the leather from oilstaining the screen of the iPad.

BookBook for iPad BookBook for iPad - Open

In addition to the lining, the BookBook is designed so that the iPad slides into a little sleeve inside the case. This sleeve is held down with two snaps – and can be detached so that a little piece of rigid leather can flip out and elevate the edge of the iPad so that it provides a nice typing surface. This feature works better than it sounds – I find myself using the iPad in this mode a lot for notetaking in meetings and writing short passages. This blog post was written in this manner, as well.

BookBook for iPad BookBook - In typing position and ready for business.

There are a couple of other small details that are welcome additions to this version of the BookBook. There are two high-quality zippers that run around the edge of the case, keeping your iPad safely protected while its encased in the BookBook. The BookBook’s also got some rigidity in the front and back covers, and that also makes it easier to type on and use.

In closing, both cases are quite nice and they’re welcome additions to my iDevices. If I only had budget for one of them, I’d get the iPad version because it’s a little better thought out, but I recommend both if you’re looking for something that doesn’t look like plastic, glass, or aluminum to transport your favorite fruit-powered device.

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