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By Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade


American comedian and film star, Groucho Marx is rumoured to have said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”, but he obviously never read a book on his smartphone.

You have probably heard that sales of ebooks are rapidly gaining on paper books. But did you know that an increasing number of people are reading ebooks not just on special ebook readers or even tablet computers, but also on their smartphones? For many, having smartphones mean never being more than a few feet from the latest page-turner.

Whether you are standing in a queue, or waiting for an appointment, you can pick up right where you left off, with no struggling to find your place. There is no extra left on your bag, no extra strain on your eyes (it is easy to make the font larger), and no limit to what you can read, with millions of books and articles accessible at your fingertips.

A good book can transport you to another world, and with your Android device, that magic can happen anywhere, whenever you have a moment to spare. And you don’t have only to read ebooks. Magazines, blogs and articles are at your fingertips as well, as well as amazing apps that complement your reading experience. Here are a few of the ways that Android is great for readers.

Whether you are already a regular ebook reader, or have yet to read your first book on screen, Google Play Books will delight you. It synchronises with your other devices in the cloud. So you could start reading a book on your Android phone, then continue reading it on your web browser from where you left off. The app lets you personalise your reading experience – you can change the text size, alignment, and font, or read in night mode (with white text on a black background). It is also easy to buy books from the Google Play Store.

If you are already an ebook reader, with your Android phone you do not have to start your library from scratch or repurchase books. Many popular ebook providers offer an Android app — if you are a Kindle reader, make sure you download the Kindle app on your Android device.

For those who do not fancy an ebook, Android makes listening to audiobooks easier than it has ever been before. Whether you prefer the professional content from the Audible or the crowdsourced literary greats offered by Travelling Classics Android could help you keep up with your reading list even when you are cooking dinner or getting your exercise. Audiobook sales have been growing even in the downturn, up 10 per cent last year alone and smartphones are helping more people discover the joy of discovering the sounds of great books.

If you are not ready to abandon your traditional books just yet, you can still use your Android phone to improve your reading experience. Say you are in a bookshop and do not want to judge just a book by its cover. With Google Goggles, you can take a photo of a book’s cover, then Goggles will send the image to the cloud, compare it with its corpus of images, and then upon identifying the book, allow you to search for it to learn more, see reviews, and perhaps even show you where you could purchase it for less online.

If you are reading and want to quickly look up a word, you can use Voice Search – just say ‘define soliloquy’ and you will get a definition almost instantly. Book Catalog can help you keep track of what you have read and what you have lent out from your own personal library, and Overdrive lets you check out ebooks and audiobooks from more than 18,000 local libraries worldwide. Finally, if you are a social reader, there is the Goodreadssocial network app to meet like-minded readers.

Whether your literary tastes run to Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Dickens or The Hunger Games, your smartphone can make it easier for you to enjoy the books you love whenever, wherever and however you want, though I still do not recommend reading ‘inside of a dog’.