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Summary:

Now is a great time to try reading eBooks if you never gave it a shot. Why? Google has 1.5 million public domain titles scanned and digitized in a small-screen format. Basically, if you can get to http://books.google.com/m on your phone’s browser, you’ve got access to […]

google-book-tocNow is a great time to try reading eBooks if you never gave it a shot. Why? Google has 1.5 million public domain titles scanned and digitized in a small-screen format. Basically, if you can get to http://books.google.com/m on your phone’s browser, you’ve got access to all of these titles. Bear in mind that public domain titles aren’t going to include many modern books, but with 1.5 million choices, there has to be something for everyone.

My educational background is in economics so I’ve already hit up the Business & Economics section for a little Adam Smith. I’ve noticed one frustrating challenge right off the bat: the pages are grouped together, so there’s a ton of scrolling. The book I’m looking at groups the content in ten page chunks, so I have to scroll down through ten pages before getting to the next batch. It’s not a perfect experience and first time eBook readers shouldn’t be dismayed by this. Most, if not all, current eBook reading platforms offer a far better navigation experience.

google-book-original-textOne very cool trick: if you select any block of text, you can see the original text that was scanned. I did that with the first paragraph in this example so you can see what I mean. Based on the content and the navigation challenges, Google isn’t going to put eReader or Mobipocket out of business anytime soon. There’s also the offline factor: you can’t read the titles in Google’s library without a connection. Commercial platforms only need a connection to initially download content. Still, if you’ve got some time to kill and can get past the scrolling bit, your “personal” library just expanded more than you ever thought it would.

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  1. might become a costly reading experience considering online costs for reading connected by mobilephone

  2. I tried it on the iPod Touch and I have to say it seems a bit buggy, so far. I was trying to scroll through the “Browse categories” scree and it kept shooting back to the first category I’d looked at. Very frustrating.

  3. The select-and-click on for original could be a good feature. The idea is the same as locating the result of a search on an OCR’d PDF but it could use a lot more work. I went scouting for mathematics book and found none in the Science and Math section. Well, there are a few physics books with equations in it. Since OCR for mathematics is currently an extremely difficult nut to crack, well beyond Google’s prowess, I would rather just be presented with a choice to see the original scans wholesale. I have about sixty books that I personally ripped apart, fed to a sheet feed scanner and then generated PDF’s from them. With some patience for all the scrolling, I read them on my iPod Touch, well barely…

  4. Aaron Pressman Friday, February 6, 2009

    This is so close to perfect, at least for older books, and such an improvement from the PDF-y view they used to have. Now if only they would add plain text download in addition to PDF download! I blogged a little more about this and linked here.
    http://gravitationalpull.net/wp/?p=697

  5. On my BlackJack II with WM 6.1, it won’t load in Pocket IE or Skyfire…feeling like I live in a WM ghetto.

  6. The good news is it works on an old Gateway pen tablet.Just resize the window down to the size of a Samsung,Blackberry or Iphone size screen and scroll away down like reading a long single column in a real world newsprint paper.

    It should work great for notebooks and those real small sub-notebooks almost as a widget/gadget,although it may have started out for folks with the snazzy phones.

  7. Just in ! Google has old magazines now like old Popular Mechanics or Popular Science for your reading pleasure :

    http://books.google.com/

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