iRiver Story and Google Books

So Google has announced that iRiver is releasing a $140 device that will be connected to Google's E-book program.

So, is this the Google Books version of the Kindle?

Let's look at the specifications from iRiver's site:

  1. $140 for 2 gigs (Kindle is $114 with ads, $140 without for 4 gigs)

  2. USB

  3. SD card slot (Kindle no longer has SD slot)

  4. Wifi only (same as Kindle)

  5. 6-inch display (Same as Kindle)

  6. Keyboard (same as Kindle)

  7. displays PDF, Epub, TXT, FB2, DJVU, MS office files and image files (Kindle right now doesn't support Epub and uses MOBI, instead. Also provides audiobook support).

Some comments:

  1. It's only 2GB compared to 4GB for the same price

  2. The specs page is one of the only I've seen that outlines a comics viewer, but doesn't handle CBZ and CBR files.

  3. Using Adobe Reader Mobile so there's DRM control, but it's no different than most of the other non-Amazon devices

Here's my biggest concern- both iRiver and Google are promoting this device as the reader for their book store. It's being pitched as the easiest way to reader over 3 million books for free from the Google Book project. The epub version of those books are straight files from the OCR conversion of the PDFs. They have not been proofed and lead to a horrible reading experience. As much as I like the idea of having a reader that ties into one of the greatest online libraries in the world, that library's content is in PDF form, the text and Epub form are wretched. Geoff Nunberg has been rallying against Google's lack of quality control on these books for some time. Laura Miller also has an article in Salon from 2009 that looks at these concerns as well. I haven't seen a vast improvement in Google Books since these articles were published. Try searching for "Publisher's Weekly" in Google Books, there are several volumes that have been scanned and are available. Or just go find your favorite classic in a free version and look at the pure text version (Here's a link to the pure text version of a conversion of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, look at the table of contents in pure text form and think about how you would feel seeing this after paying for a reader to read this.)

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