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The Bookshelf at Your Fingertips, Literally

The New York Times’s Peter Wayner decides it’s time to devote attention to the rise of e-readers and portable devices that allow commuters to read books when they choose to. Someone like lawyer Paul Biba, who commutes into Manhattan from New Jersey with his trusty portable reader. “Once you get use to having books with you, you get used to reading in places where it never occurred to you. If I’m waiting in line at the supermarket counter, why not read one of my science fiction magazines?” he said. “Believe it or not, I’ll sit down in my chair at home, pull out my phone and read a book.”

Getting Wayner’s attention are cellphones, the Sony Reader as well as software platforms like Manybooks.net and Fictionwise that create programs allowing people to read on their handy portable devices – such as the iPhone. It is only a matter of time before users create tools specifically for the iPhone, said Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, a repository of e-books no longer under copyright protection. “The iPod was only out one week before we had e-book readers running on them, so it will be no surprise if there are multiple sets of programs, readers and formats for the iPhone,” he said.

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