A new e-book reader is in town to rival the Amazon Kindle - and it is from a British newcomer to the consumer electronics universe.
Interead is the first beyond heavyweights Amazon and Sony to offer both a hardware reader and a sales pipeline for acquiring ebook content. And while its initial offerings – the Cool-er E-book reader and coolerbooks.com – are a little rough around the edges, together they offer a viable, no-frills alternative to Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader.
"Cool-er has been designed to fit the requirements of a reader. They want it to be portable, light, to fit in a jacket pocket or purse, and they want it to do what they want to do in a simple manner," posits company founder Neil Jones whose business is based, appropriately, in Reading.
Dissatisfied with other ebook readers, Jones pursued his vision earlier this year. He began a rapid-fire four-month development cycle in January, and partnered with a Taiwanese manufacturer on the device's design and production. The resulting Cool-er Reader is entering production now, and will be available at the end of May.
One aspect of the Cool-er Reader will sound very familiar: it has a 6in E-Ink screen. It also has 1GB of onboard storage (good for about 750 to 800 books), and an SD Card slot (as found on the Sony Digital Reader PRS-700 and the first-generation Kindle) for expanding data capacity by up to 4GB.
The device weighs 178g - up to half the weight of other e-book readers - and it measures just 8.6mm thick, making slimmer than even the Apple iPhone 3G (which also is an e-book reader through several apps, including a version of Kindle).
The Cool-er Reader can handle EPUB-formatted books, in addition to Adobe PDF files, text files, and JPEG files. It can also handle up to eight languages simultaneously (although you can manually change the device's language to one of the supported eight languages, too). The device has MP3 playback, for use with audio books.
How an unknown quantity like Interead will fare against the establishment remains to be seen, but Interead has taken the step to launch an ebook store, too - coolerbooks.com.
There, the company offers over 260,000 e-books. Jones notes that's more than the 160,000 titles in Sony's digital book store's coffers (not counting Google Book Search) and about 4,000 more e-books than Amazon offers. Interead plans to sell the books at 25 percent off of list price for Cool-er Reader owners, and 20 percent off list for the rest of consumers.