According to a news report by Reuters last week, the iPhone is set to become a device for displaying electronic books.

Book publisher HarperCollins has said that is going to make its books available for download to and viewing on Apple's iPhone. HarperCollins says it will initially offer 14 new book titles in an iPhone-compatible format thorugh its browse inside application. Browse inside will allow customers to read sample pages from books that interest them on the HarperCollins website before downloading any that appeal to their iPhone handset.

The iPhone, currently only available in the US but slated for a UK launch some time in October, is a touchscreen handset that has no buttons and is all screen. From PC Advisor's hands-on trials of the iPhone we reckon Apple's latest hype generator will work quite nicely as an electronic book. By dragging a finger with some pressure quickly across its touch-sensitive fascia, readers will be able to flick from page to page.

However, another issue in the iPhone-as-digital-book's success will be whether the iPhone's shiny surface lends itself to being stared at for long periods. Pretty as the iPhone is, its reflective screen may be tough on readers' eyes. Sony already has an eBook Reader – another portable device for taking books in electronic format out and about with you. The Sony Reader, however, has a deliberately matte screen and electronic documents are designed to look as though they are printed on real paper.