As a lover of books, I have always admired the Rutledge BookBook ($89.99) from Twelve South. Early versions were lovely but a little too retro with long leather strings that tied down to a leather button. But Twelve South keeps working it and they have created, with the new Rutledge line, an improved case that looks great, offers all around protection and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
The basics are this: Fine, imported leather, with an aged and rustic look inspired by great wooden electric guitars, nylon zippers with leather pulls, and a soft interior. The iPad Air version now holds the iPad within a leather frame with all ports accessible. The frame snaps to the back of the case, and can be unsnapped to position the iPad for typing. The edges of the case are extruded to protect the iPad from bumps and drops. Gold stamping on the raised spine completes the appearance of an antique book.
The case is supple enough to fold back into a well-balanced tablet only mode. This is one of those issues where many cases fail: there is just too much extra case for tablet mode after accounting for a portrait-oriented “media consumption” mode.
The only drawback, unlike slightly snugger cases (like those from Moshi and Apple that hug the Air’s frame very closely) is that when wearing the Rutledge BookBook it might not fit in some bags designed for a more “naked” iPad Air.
One area where I might differ with the Rutledge designers is the snaps. Given the retro look of the case, I understand the design aesthetic of snaps, but with so many cases now turning to magnets, I would choose magnets to further simplify the design.
At this point, my iPad Air is living very happily inside its Rutledge case. It has traveled to London and Amsterdam, and up-and-down the West Coast. After nine months and many options, my iPad Air may have finally found a permanent home—but the iPad case market is vast and the iPad Air can be a fickle fashion horse.
iPhone Life Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
11-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010-Current)
Height: 12.3 inches (312 mm)
Width: 8.3 inches (211 mm)
Depth: 1.25 inches (32 mm)
Weight: 14.1 ounces (400 g)