Scribd is launching an iPhone app called the Float Reader, through which it hopes to become “the Netflix of reading.” Unfortunately, I can’t try this app out on my first-gen iPod Touch—it requires iOS 4.0—but from the news coverage it looks like an interesting attempt to bring some of the benefits of iPad-only reader apps like Flipboard to the smaller smartphone interface.
The Float Reader provides access to a user’s Scribd documents, as well as to articles from 150 partners including The Atlantic, Time, Salon, and TechCrunch, and to excerpts of articles friends have shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Scribd. It will also allow Instapaper-like slurping of content via a browser bookmarklet. One clever feature is that the app will support either scrolling of text by sliding your finger up and down on the screen, or flipping to a whole new page by sliding it left or right.
Scribd plans to start running ads against some content later this year, but also plans to offer a Netflix-style service where one flat fee allows access to paywalled content from a number of publishers. This is an idea with some potential—as TechCrunch points out, it seems more likely to succeed than requiring people to pay separately every time they want to read something—but time will tell if they can get enough publishers on board to make it appealing.