At last!!! The reason why I bought an iPad in the first place! Being able to browse the wonderful Safari Books Online library from the iPad and download entire books for offline reading in the tube.
Last year O’Reilly released a first version of Safari To Go that was one of the worse apps on the planet at the time. They removed it from the app store less than a month after release.
So far the least worse way to browse the books from an iPad was to use the full web front-end, which wasn’t too bad with a browser supporting full-screen. But reading a book on the web was sluggish: you had to wait every time you clicked the next page, offline reading was not possible so no way to read in the London tube.
Version 2.0.1 of Safari To Go is a proper native iPad app that uses the whole screen and allows you to touch swipe between pages (compare that to the wasted space and sluggish web feel of version 1.0).
When flipping pages you have access to a very handy pop-up Table of Contents (I wish iBooks had that).
You can cache the entire book you’re currently reading. This is a very useful functionality that even the web front-end did not allow: all you could do with Safari Books Online was download individual chapters as PDF. Because there was a limit on how many chapters you could download each year you always had to think twice before downloading an entire book. That made offline reading very tedious.
Saving a book for offline use looks like this: