The first e-reader with the capability to buy and download titles directly from the Google eBookstore goes on sale in the US on July 17.
Google looks as if it is following Amazon - it has a book store and now it has an ebook reader - but look a little closer and you discover that Google does it different. The bookstore only sells ebooks, cutting out the pre-digital age and instead of manufacturing its own reader it gets someone else to do it!
Manufactured by iriver the Story HD is the first e-reader to integrate with the Google eBooks platform and provide the same sort of service to customers that the Amazon Kindle store does. You can now browse the Google book store and buy all from the device. You can also keep your books in the "cloud" and transfer from one device to another without losing your place.
Google as bookseller is yet another pie that Google seems to be unable to resist. It takes Amazon on head-to-head but without having to build the expensive distribution network that paper books demand. By going straight to ebooks Google cuts out the pre-digital era and attacks the future market.
Google eBooks launched in December 2010 providing the ability to read titles on any device with a web browser and with apps to Android, Nook, Sony and iOS. The only notable absence from the list is Kindle - of course.
The API was open for manufacturers to incorporate into devices and iriver is the first to do so.
Notice that once again Google is doing things differently. Instead of building its own reader like Amazon and the Kindle - it just created the open specification and waited. And sooner or later iriver came along - there will surely be others.
Based on its existing Story device the Story HD is Described on the Google blog as "slim and lightweight with a high-resolution e-ink screen and a QWERTY keyboard for easy searching" it looks looks like the first generation Amazon Kindle, but with bronze buttons:
It will be released with Wi-Fi compatibility but with no 3G cellular data option.
From July 17 the Story HD will be available from the Target website and in its stores across the US for $139.99, the same price as the Kindle 3 and Nook Simple Touch.
One question that readers outside the US will be asking is when Google plans to open up its eBookstore to the rest of the world? If you access it from outside the US you still see the message:
The latest Google eBooks are not available for sale in your location, yet...
which eight months after its launch really isn't good enough. One of the huge advantages of starting your bookstore with nothing but ebooks is that you can deliver them anywhere. Not serving a worldwide market is a missed opportunity.
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