The crowded e-book market has just squeezed in room for one more contender, as iriver has created an eInk reader that works with the Google Books store. Available on July 17 at Target’s (s trgt) online and retail stores, the iriver Story HD costs $139.99 and has access to more than 3 million free titles through Google via Wi-Fi. Paid titles are also supported through the Google Books (s goog) storefront, which competes with virtual shelves from Apple (s aapl), Sony (s sny), Amazon (s amzn), Kobo and Barnes & Noble (s bks), to name a few.
The iriver device looks similar to Amazon’s Kindle, complete with a QWERTY keyboard and eInk display. There’s no touchscreen technology that I can see, something the newest Nook from Barnes & Noble recently gained at the same price point. Instead, page navigation appears to be handled by a four-way button between the keyboard and the display. Even without any hands-on experience, I’m not sold that this method is the most effective or comfortable.
Google launched its eBooks platform in December, bringing eBook content to desktop browsers as well as mobile devices such as those that run Android or iOS through a mobile app. The new iriver Story HD adds an option for those wanting a “pure” eReader experience with high-contrast electronic ink, but I don’t see a huge market for the device. Google may change my mind in the future, however, because it offers Google Books APIs for device manufacturers and developers to connect to the Google Books platform.
It is worth noting that Google says that any eReaders that support Adobe’s eBook platform can already use Google Books. Dedicated eReaders from Sony and Barnes & Noble support Adobe (s adbe) eBooks, so why the need for a Google Books version? The only reason I can think of is store integration, which the new iriver Story HD provides. Is that appealing enough to sell this device, or do you think this is a flop in the making? Have at it in our poll!