First Google-powered e-book reader hits shelves

11 Jul 2011

The world’s first e-book reader device to be powered by Google’s eBooks platform goes on sale in the US later this week. Called the iRiver Story HD, the device allows users to buy and read books over Wi-Fi.

The device will go on sale across America at Target stores and on and will retail for US$139.99.

It will boast a high-resolution e-ink screen, a QWERTY keyboard and will include over-the-air access to hundreds of thousands of Google e-books for sale plus more than 3m free e-books.

It is clear that Google wants to repeat the success it had with Android on smartphones with its e-book platform by opening it up to other manufacturers.

“We built the Google eBooks platform to be open to all publishers, retailers and manufacturers,” said Pratip Banerji, product manager at Google Books.

“Manufacturers like iRiver can use Google Books APIs and services to connect their devices to the full Google eBooks catalogue for out-of-the-box access to a complete e-bookstore.

“You can also store your personal e-books library in the cloud – picking up where you left off in any e-book you’re reading as you move from laptop to smartphone to e-reader to tablet,” Banerji said.

He said Google intends to stick to its vision of making it possible to read its e-books on any device, whether it’s apps on Android or iOS-powered smartphones and via its Chrome Web Store.

Banerji said it has added more than 250 independent bookstores and has made its e-books app available in the Android Market.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years