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The Incredible Shrinking Book

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Have you ever read a long document on your computer screen?  I’m talking novel-length.  It’s not nearly as comfortable as paging through a book from your couch.  But if you’re brave enough to try something even more doubtful, stories are becoming available through cell phones.

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GigaOM’s Katie Fehrenbacher has some (well-founded) reservations about this technology, yet points out, “Mobile comics and short form novels have been gaining popularity in Japan, geared toward commuters and school kids.”  She then rounded up several American alternatives for those among us who don’t mind a little eyestrain.

Two of the choices are pretty fresh faces, but Moka’s mBook service, which launched today, appears to be the newest kid on the block.  It “sends text-message or email bits of books to phones,” and – this is good news for most folks, but bad news for War and Peace fans – “[t]he messages are 160 characters.”  (Expect quotes, not passages.)

Wattpad, which is actually based in Canada, has another new product.  As Fehrenbacher reports, it “went out of beta on Tuesday, and offers a mobile client for reading and sharing user-generated stories on mobile phones.” Then, “Once you download the client you can also download stories to your phone, and read them when offline.”

To get back to this technology’s Japanese roots, you could also turn to the TokyoPop Manga Reader – its site is definitely the most colorful of the bunch, and the reader itself seems to have been Fehrenbacher’s favorite option.  “[I]t’s actually fun to read for awhile,” writes our GigaOM guide.  “The content skews young and even the 3G experience is a tad slow, but worth it.”

I think I’ll stick with my paper copies for now, but if you’re determined to receive content on your cell phone, the market appears ready and willing to satisfy your needs.

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  • Andrew99

    Another option for reading ebooks on cell phones is Libris:(http://www.hillbillyinteractive.com). I’ve been reading with it for a few months.

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