Google are getting busy and going mobile on your iPhone with books!  You can read 1.5 million public domain books on most any cellphone — Google Books look especially great on your beloved iPhone — and that’s especially pleasing in the face of Steve Jobs’ false accusation we no longer read.

Does the Google Mobile Reader suggest the end of the hardcopy book?  Yes!  Just as the new Amazon Kindle 2.0 announced today proves a whole new way of realigning the book publishing stars.

For those that do not believe in the death of the paper book from this moment forward, I am reminded of a keen argument I read online that said all one needs to do to understand the future of reading from the lessons of the past is to substitute “hardcopy book” with “horse” and “e-book” with “car” and you get the entire argument reamed to its core:  Sure, horses are more tactile, more romantic and hardier when it comes to going cross-country, but cars are faster, easier to use, and they take you more places over longer stretches of time with less maintenance.

Back to the book — the Google Mobile Book! — and “The Importance of Being Earnest” as you can see below.  Sure, there are some niggly formatting problems, but generally, the books parse really well in the mobile editions.

To scroll down the page, you wipe your finger down on the screen. 

This is actually counter-intuitive, because you prefer to flip through “pages” than peeling your finger down the screen, but that’s the current state of reading a book on an iPhone.

I much prefer a dedicated e-book reader like the Kindle because, as I’ve argued before, nobody wants to spend hours trying to read a book through the face grease plastered on you cellphone screen. 

I don’t want a touch screen e-book reader.  I don’t want anything to touch the pristine “page” of my e-book and that includes my face and my fingers!

Searching for books on Google Mobile is easy:

When you touch the “Go” button, you are presented with a list of books found based on your search criteria:

Navigating your e-book is as simple as calling up the “Table of Contents” and touching your way into your reading bliss:

I’ve done a search for “Cather” to present Google Books written by the great Nebraska author, Willa Cather. 

Touching the title I want loads the book:


By design default, Google Books will load the first formatted text page for you, but if you force Google Books to take you to backward to the lead pages, you can see the original format of the book as published in its hardcopy version:

You can also “jump” to various pages in the Google Book. 

The list of pages you see on your screen are based on the number of “screen pages” you’ll have to swipe through on your iPhone before the phone has to load more “pages” from the Google servers.

Reading pre-formatted Google Books is an okay experience, but if you want to “head back” to the original hardcopy version, you can do that by touching the text body anywhere in the book and Google will load the “real” version of the page for you. 

In many ways, I prefer the original image to the formatted text.

Sometimes, when you touch the text to load the original page image, you’ll get multiple notifications from Google Book that your image is loading from the server cloud: 

It’s fun to compare on a single iPhone screen the original image versus the formatted text:

When you’re done reading, you can always choose the “Recently viewed books” link to see what pleasures Google Book Search brought to your iPhone in a simple list view. 

I like how Google helps me remember where I was and what was important to me:

If you have a cellphone, fire it up and point it to —

— so you can precisely see what you’re missing and then start the love of reading 1.5 million books at the power of your fingertips!


  1. OH NOES!
    Sorry to hear that, Gordon. I bet it has to do with formatting for the page. It seems pretty device specific.
    I guess it’s time for you to move up to a new iPhone!

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