This year, Google has made no bones about the fact that they’re looking to take on Amazon in the eBook arena. First, they made a deal with Sony (maker of the Sony eReader, top competitor to Amazon’s Kindle reader) to provide more than half a million public domain titles. Then in June, Google “signaled its intent to introduce a program by that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers through Google.” A couple weeks later, Google Books came out with new viewing and embedding features, including mobile-compatible features.
But still, all the embedding and viewing features in the world aren’t much competition for the eye-strain–preventing, ultra portable, WiFi connecting Kindle. Without some awesome hardware, Google’s eBook revolution would probably remain just a pipe dream.
So it’s a darn good thing they’ve partnered with Interead, makers of COOL-ER eReaders. Designed as a cheaper eReader, the COOL-ER is an up-and-coming Kindle competitor. Of course, Google’s partnership with their parent company only extends to the public domain books in Google’s repository (the first such deal that will have effect outside the US).
The COOL-ER is a cheaper alternative to the Kindle—both in price, and, according to the reviews I’ve watched, in quality and durability. (If I’m going to plonk down $250 for an eReader, I might as well spring for the full-featured Kindle.) However, the COOL-ER has the greatest file compatibility range—19 in all, from PDF to EPUB to MP3. (And I’m most inclined to wait at least one more generation on any eReader, at the very least.)
The next logical step might very well be Google influencing the COOL-ER itself—and in keeping with the Google way of doing things, keep it affordable, make it accessible and make it quality. Also in keeping with the Google way—get someone else to do your hardware.
What do you think? Will this be Google’s back door into the eReader industry? Or are they only interested in selling the books themselves?