Can the Google e-reader compete with the Kindle?

The iriver Story HD will be the first e-reader to give users direct access to Google's 3 million free books. Too bad it's so ugly

Google's iriver Story HD e-reader
(Image credit: Google/iriver)

On Monday, Google announced the first Google eBooks-integrated e-reader: The iriver Story HD, which will let users directly access Google's 3 million free eBooks plus hundreds of thousands of pay titles, will go on sale this Sunday at Target stores and Target.com for $139.99, the same price as the Amazon Kindle. But is it really a threat to the Kindle's dominance in the e-reader market?

No, but it's a step: "Will this device give Amazon's Kindle a run for its money?" asks Todd Bishop at MSNBC. "Probably not, at least not on its own, but it's a notable step for Google's digital books initiative." This is the first device that will let people read Google eBooks directly, instead of having to download them to a computer and then transfer them to a device with a cord. But it certainly won't be the only one, Google has said more e-readers with Google eBooks integration are on the way.

"Revealed: First e-reader with native Google eBooks integration"

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Google's probably too late: "After taking on Facebook with the introduction of Google+ last week, Google is giving Amazon a run for its money this week by launching its own e-reader" with competitive pricing and an "impressive" display, says Gloria Sin at ZDNet. And allowing users to access most titles from the cloud is an added convenience for those shuffling between multiple gadgets. Still, Google might be too late to the game to really compete with the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, which have well established relationships with publishers — and customers.

"Move over, Kindle. iriver Story HD is Google's e-reader, $139.99"

And this e-reader is so ugly: This unsightly device looks like a second-generation Kindle, as if someone "colored the plastic to make it look like it had been made in the 1980s and left it in the sun ever since" and then "painted the already horrible keys a brassy gold color," says Charlie Sorrel in Wired. While it beats the Kindle in terms of weight (it's lighter) and screen resolution (it's sharper), it doesn't have a touch-screen, which also makes it seem dated.

"Google and Iriver make world's ugliest e-reader"

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