Yes you can read books on your smartphone.

Original artwork painted by Ruth Godbolt Kennedy
Original artwork painted by Ruth Kennedy

Do you remember reading a book as a kid? In bed, under the covers with a flashlight? Maybe that’s why I think of reading as a “guilty pleasure.” I have several memories throughout my life of spending hours, even days, engrossed in a novel. Grapes of Wrath kept me sequestered for several days, The Thorn Birds even more. I have been accused of getting sick, just so I would have to stay in bed, then I could read a book without feeling guilty for not doing my work. My friend, Ruth Kennedy, had just read The Count of Monte Cristo when she was inspired to create this painting. Magic indeed.

Kindle Generation 1Then came the Kindle eBook reader. My sweet Father-in-Law gave me a first generation Kindle when it came out in 2008.  I could now carry around a library full of books in my purse and read them anywhere! I’ll never forget taking that Kindle with me to the dentist. It changed my relationship with dentist appointments – I looked forward to them because it gave me time to catch up on my reading. When the dentist came in and noticed me reading, she asked what the book was, I told her Water for Elephants, and it’s wonderful but I’m almost finished. She told me the book she was reading, My Sister’s Keeper, and I immediately downloaded it. We discussed it at our next book club meeting, err I mean dentist appointment. (see personal blog post from February 2009)

Reading on smartphones, or listening with Alexa

Today, I don’t even need the Kindle reader because the Amazon Kindle app works just the same on my Android phone, my iPhone, my iPad, or my Android tablet. If the book has an audible version, Alexa will even read it to me. Jim’s and my primary method for passing time on the road is to have Alexa read to us.

Reading on a phone is so convenient

I actually prefer my phone for reading over paper books and also over tablets/iPads or eBook readers. Why? Because it’s small enough to hold with one hand, (leaving the other hand free for that glass of wine) and light enough that my hand does not get tired. I can set the font size and the screen lighting/colors so that it is comfortable for my eyes whether I’m in a beach chair in the bright sun, or in bed in the middle of the night.

The main reason I like the phone app is because my phone is always with me. I’m prepared with a book to read any time I might catch a bit of time to do so. If you’re worried about how your book looks on that little screen, realize that there are a lot of adjustments available.  Check out this little video to see how it works.

Buying new books – instant gratification

It’s so easy to get a new book. Last week while on vacation, I finished the book (Mrs. Hemingway) I downloaded for the trip and started asking the other people in our group for recommendations. At least 2 people highly recommended Where the Crawdads Sing. As soon as I got back to my room I could purchase, download, and start reading that book. Imagine how many days, weeks, months, -or never- that would be if I insisted on reading paper books?!

Google Play Books

Actually, I didn’t even use the Kindle app this time. Google Play Books is very similar, and it comes on most all Android devices. Just look in the Google group of apps. As long as you have a Google Account and have attached a credit card to your account, you can purchase books. For Kindle, you need an Amazon account. 

If you have an iPhone, you can still use the Google Play Books app to read a book, but to buy a book you have to use a Web browser to go to Google Play Books. Same with Kindle on iPhone – you need to use a Web browser and go to to buy a book, then you can read it on the iOS Kindle app.

Searching and highlighting passages

One other feature I really like with books on my phone is that I can highlight passages and I can search. Those books, and those highlighted passages are accessible to me forever. This is especially useful for non-fiction books. Let’s say you got the Kindle version of my book – Mrs. Geek’s Guide to Google Photos – and you wanted to remember how to set up a group photo album. You could highlight the passage and quickly find it any time just by opening the book on your phone and searching for “albums.” Your search results would show any highlighted passages with the word “albums” first. If perchance you didn’t highlight that part, search will show you everywhere the word appears in the book and give you the context. You can then click on an item from the search results and be taken to that page in the book.

Amazon Kindle vs Google Play Books

I have discovered 2 differences between Kindle and Google Play Books. #1 favors Kindle and #2 favors Google.

  1. When you buy a book using Kindle, you are prompted to add the audible book to your purchase if there is one. I often buy both the eBook and the Audible version. For some books I also have the paperback version! One way or another, I’m going to finish that book. In the Google Play Books version, the eBooks are completely separate from the Audible books. Pricing example: Homo Deus = Kindle: 14.99 + 12.99 for audible, Google Play Books: 14.99 19.95 audible.
  2. When you highlight sections of books using the Kindle app, those highlights stay with the book. With Google Play Books, your highlights are all collected in Google Drive. Very handy.

Download a sample

I was just watching TV and saw an interview of an author promoting a book. I have no idea if I’ll really like the book, but it sounds intriguing. Both Kindle and Google Play Books allow me to download a free sample. So I can read a bit and decide whether I want to buy it. I love that.

So, what are you reading? And, how are you reading it? Paperback? Tablet sized eReader? Anyone else like reading on your phone as much as I do?