Classics2Go iPhone eBook Reader App Review


classics-logoElectronic Books (eBooks) are huge news these days. From the Kindle to Barnes & Noble’s latest offering, portable readers are the news of the day. While some think this is the wave of the future, I have come full circle from my non-comvergence stance: At some point in the future, there will be a single device that will do everything you want well enough that you will stop using your single-purpose device. Some say that day has come and the iPhone is it. I’m not quite there mentally, but the proliferation of reading programs on the iTunes App Store makes me think some folks are going in that direction. This review is of one of many different reading apps, Classics2Go from KiwiTech.

Copyright before Steamboat Willie (who transmogrified into Mickey Mouse) was a looser affair than it is now. Works were owned by the originator, and they remained so until that person died. If no renewals took place, the work became public domain, and anyone could publish and use parts of it at will. For this reason, many of the book readers and collections (including the Gutenberg Project) concentrate on pre-1923 works: Dickens, Doyle, Wells, Shakespeare, et al. Modern copyright makes paying royalties to the originator (or the current copyright holder) difficult, at best.

Classics2Go takes all those books many of us grew up reading and loving, as well as the tomes we endured in English Literature over the years, and puts them into a library of easy to manage volumes right on your iPhone. There are two versions of the application – Classics2Go Lite and the Classics2Go Collection. Several individual titles are also available as stand-alone freebies.


To anyone who has read an eBook on a handheld device, the interface will be familiar, but probably more attractive than any other readers you’ve seen. To those who have never thought of reading on a handheld – give it a shot. The books show up in a Bookshelf, you read the titles off the spine, and tap once to add them to your shelf. Once there, another single tap opens the book to the cover. Each subsequent tap takes you a page along the volume. Tap to the left of center, and you’ll go back a page. In an instant, you’re reading with one hand, and captivated by the antique patina on the page. OK, so it doesn’t feel like an old book, and it’s not dusty or moldy, but the visual effect is that of reading one of the classics in a pulp printing from back in the day. There are even wrinkles on the cover.


Turning the page is animated by a tap or right-to-left swipe.

Turning the page is animated by a tap or right-to-left swipe.

When I first got a Palm, I began to re-read the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in stolen moments waiting for clients, sitting in traffic, and at lunch. I probably hadn’t read them since the 70’s. The greenish tint and the sans-serif print, not to mention having to tap with my fingernail or click a button to turn the page, was not quite the same effect as my hardback collected works edition that I think is still at my mom’s house. Here they are again, though, ready for another round, anytime I want. Now, I’m reading some other oldies (P. G. Wodehouse’s “The Girl on the Boat” and Dumas’ “Three Musketeers”, if you must know). Small touches like a tasseled leather bookmark that floats over the page to save your place when you exit one book for another let you know that this collection was put together by someone who is paying attention to your reading experience.

With Classics2Go, as long as you have your iPhone, you’ll never lack something to read. And with the collection, updating your application will add new books as they bring more to this platform. It’s a great way to carry around your required reading if you’re in school, or to re-read (or maybe discover!) those treasures from the past.


Product Information

Price:$0.99 for full version of reader with 47 books. Lite reader and additional books are free
  • Nice collection of literature
  • Very book-like interface
  • Bookmark saves your place
  • Old works only - limited content
  • No dusty "old library" smell
  • Reading in dark/low light can distract those around you
Posted in: eBook Readers, iOS
{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Marc July 16, 2009, 8:52 am

    Your right! It certainly isn’t the iPhone as it can’t even multitask. Maybe next version?
    I wish I could ‘get’ ebooks. I know they aren’t big in the UK but available books appear to be ‘classics’ which most people would have read already. Or worse the bible. How many times can you read that? I just never feel I need to read something, anything as long as its on a electronic pad. I did a search on ‘Harry Potter’ on and there is nothing by JK Rowling. Why is that do you suppose?

  • Niels July 16, 2009, 9:37 am

    I think you mean ‘tomes’, not tombs. Looks interesting, though. I have used Stanza in the past, but find myself using Eucalyptus more and more.

  • Smythe Richbourg July 16, 2009, 11:04 am

    heh – good catch, @Neils. I’ve fixed it. That was an auto-correct. I need to send that to Molly Wood for “Auto Incorrect.”

  • Graham July 20, 2009, 9:47 am

    Mark said: “Your right! It certainly isn’t the iPhone as it can’t even multitask. Maybe next version?”

    Not sure what multitasking has got to do with being a good ebook reader.

    However, you’re wrong about the multitasking bit, too. On the iPhone you can talk and surf the internet simultaneously, have your music playing in the background while you do other things, or have the voice recorder running while you simultaneously make typed notes, or listen to streaming audio while reading a book, or download emails and applications while also sending a text.

    The only apps that are prohibited from running in the background are from third parties; until that comes. there’s plethy to be getting on with.

  • Rob Tillotson July 20, 2009, 11:36 am

    “listen to streaming audio while reading a book”? Only if it’s actual paper book, because both of those things require third party apps, which can’t multitask 🙂

    (This is one reason I don’t want an iPhone, despite loving my iPod Touch. A device that is always connected to the net should be able to, say, play Pandora while I’m in the middle of a conversation on IRC or using a GPS app in the car. Yes, I know that will reduce battery life, but I also know I’m a grownup who is capable of deciding to make that tradeoff.)

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