While I have long since forgone interactions in the physical world in favor of their counterparts/improvements online — listening to the radio, going to the videodrome, banking, learning German, just to give a few examples — one thing I can’t bring myself to throw into the dustbin of materiality is a good book.
But also as a bibliophile who’s packed up and crossed oceans for good more than once, I can attest to one of books’ major detriments: weight. So my interest was piqued to hear yesterday that Google has just made 1.5 million ebooks from Google Book Search available on mobile devices.
Now, as of now these are only books in the public domain, meaning pretty old stuff; I can’t say that I often have the urge on a train ride to work to peruse say, Beowulf. Also the transfer of older scanned books to text for easier reading on a cellphone can often result in a bit of a verbal mishmash, as the LA Times notes. But it seems that Amazon.com is also on the case. They announced simultaneously that they are now working on making contemporary and out-of-print titles that are already digitized for the Kindle e-reader for access on mobile phones as well.
In the meanwhile, for those too impatient to wait to read the latest airport novel without all the fuss of pages, Amazon is scheduled to unveil the latest version of Kindle on Monday.