GoodReader: Huge advance in PDF handling on iPhone

Short and to the point: GoodReader is a really significant advance in the state of the art for PDF reading on mobile devices. It loads just one page at a time, which means that it no longer matters how big the overall file is.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “So what’s the big deal?” you have probably not tried reading a large PDF on an iPhone/iPod Touch, or PSP or anything else of the sort. If you have tried it, then you’ve seen how truly awful it can get, with files making the machine slower and slower and slower, and finally simply not working. There are a lot of book-length PDFs I’ve been wanting to look at on my iPod Touch, and couldn’t.

Until now.

It’s a $4.99 app (on sale for $0.99 at the moment, but I am unsure how long that sale will last), available from the iTunes store, and there’s a handy link to that along with more information here at the publisher’s site. It’s ingenious: it can download files from the web, and transfer across a local wi-fi or Bonjour network, or set itself up as a network folder for very rapid copying from another machine. In addition, as the screen shot here suggests, it’ll let you organize transferred files into a folder arrangement of your choice.

Since I got it, I’ve been using it to read recently roleplaying game rulebooks in PDF form, and by golly, it works. The big ones are as easy to handle as the small ones, and standard iPhone OS pinching and zooming lets me sail around each page without much fuss.

I still don’t think that PDF as a format is anything like ideal for ebooks, but since it is in such widespread usage, may as well be able to read it easily, right? Right!


Bruce Baugh spends a lot of time lugging around more books than he ever dreamed possible without ever even sweating, and really likes this whole e-book thing.

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