Google Opens Online Book Library To Mobile Users

Is the e-reader revolution finally upon us? Now, we know that demand for Amazon's Kindle has been remarkable, but it would still be a stretch to say that e-books were all the rage amongst the general populace over the past year or so. As Amazon apparently prepares to unveil its next generation Kindle on Monday at a New York City library, the e-tailer is also planning (or at least it appears that way) to offer up its e-reader software to smartphones.

In order to stay lockstep with its rivals, Google has just announced that its vast online library of books will soon be made available to select cellphones. According to an excitement-filled post on Google's own Book Search blog, it is launching a mobile version of Google Book Search, thus "opening up over 1.5 million mobile public domain books in the US (and over half a million outside the US)" for mobile surfers to browse and get absorbed in while waiting in line at the post office or blowing off some steam at work.

At least initially, the service is being tailored to work best on Android-powered phones (no surprise there) and Apple's iPhone. The same books available on the web-accessible version of Google Book Search will be available via the mobile portal, which can be accessed by pointing one's iPhone / Android web browser to

What's amazing about this miniaturization is that Google used OCR (optical character recognition) software in order to strip actual text from scanned book pages in order to make the words legible on mobile screens. Needless to say, viewing a scanned JPG or PDF isn't exactly ideal on a 2- to 3-inch display, so this digitization magic is what makes it all possible. Google accurately points out that the "technical challenges are daunting, but with this launch, we believe that we've taken an important step toward more universal access to books." Best of all, the outfit has provided the ability to simply click text in order to view the original page if you stumble across a phrase which its sophisticated OCR software wasn't able to accurately convert. Top notch stuff as always, Google.