Google Books partners with an e-reader: the iRiver Story HD


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Google Books can be purchased from the Google eBookstore on all sorts of desktops, laptops and tablets -- iPads, Galaxy Tabs, G-Slates and Flyers -- but as of yet no e-readers.

Not on a Kobo. Or a Kindle. Or a Nook.


But that is set to change Sunday, when the iRiver Story HD e-reader hits Target stores across the U.S. and becomes the first e-reader to connect to the Google eBookstore.

As The Times’ Carolyn Kellogg writes on our sister blog Jacket Copy, the device aims at Amazon’s bestselling Kindle with a $139.99 price tag, Wi-Fi connectivity and a sizable black-and-white e-ink screen.

But the name, iRiver Story HD, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. From Kellogg:

When applied to a television, ‘HD’ generally means ‘High Definition,’ which refers to a digitally compressed high resolution color image. Since the iriver Story HD is a black-on-gray e-ink reader, I’m not sure what HD means. Maybe our colleagues at the Technology blog can explain what the ‘HD’ stands for. Or maybe it means ‘Hey Dude,’ ‘Happy Documents’ or ‘Hot Diggity.’ Who knows? Specs for the new device aren’t yet available on the iRiver website.

Well, as of now, the Technology blog is stumped as to why the letters H and D are stamped at the end of the iRiver Story’s name. In a blog post, Google says the iRiver Story HD features a ‘high-resolution e-ink screen and a QWERTY keyboard for easy searching.’

As Kellogg noted, ‘HD’ in consumer electronics terms often identifies a gadget that can display images at a resolution of 720p or 1080p -- the number of horizontal lines of pixels rendered on a TV or tablet.

But e-ink screens don’t use pixels in the same way a computer or phone screen does -- e-ink screens run by pushing microcapsules of ink between layers of film to display an image. Maybe iRiver is trying to tell us that its e-reader will have 1080 horizontal lines’ worth of microcapsules in the Story HD’s display?


Officials at iRiver were unavailable to comment on the name.

One thing we know for sure is that the Story HD lacks the snappy touch-screens of the new Barnes & Noble Nook and the Kobo eReader Touch Edition devices. No touch-capable Kindle has been released either.

But although touch-screen e-readers feel like a future that’s already arrived, iRiver’s Story HD is skirting that trend for now.

[Corrected 7:43 p.m.: An earlier version of the post incorrectly said that Google eBooks couldn’t be read on Barnes and Noble’s Nook or the Kobo eReader Touch Edition. Google eBooks, which come in the ePub format, can be read on those devices, just not purchased on the device itself.]


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Images: The iRiver Story HD e-reader. Credit: Google