One of the key difference between reading eBooks and reading paper books is that it’s easier to skim, skip around, or flip pages on a physical book. Need to jump back a few pages to double check something, or want to sort of create a temporary bookmark with your finger while you read ahead? No problem.
Doing those things can be tough with an eBook though. That might not be too important if you’re reading a book cover-to-cover. But textbooks, cookbooks, and a number of other non-fiction books aren’t necessarily meant to be read that way.
So Google’s decided to redesign its digital book app to make it easier to read non-fiction books in a non-linear way.
The latest version of the Google Play Books app for Android phones and tablets is designed for skimming, skipping, and generally reading things out of order.
There’s an emphasis on the table of contents, which lets you skip ahead to certain portions of a book. Then you can create Quick Bookmarks to skip back and forth between pages (for instance, if you’re cooking two recipes at once from a cookbook), and there’s a Skim Mode which lets you zip through pages quickly without each page taking up a full screen. You can bookmark pages for later reading while you’re skimming.
It’s not quite the same as folding down the corners of pages or placing sticky notes in a book to mark key pages. But it’s a sign that Google recognizes that there’s more than one way to read an eBook.