New iRiver e-reader chooses Google eBooks platform

There will soon be a dedicated e-reading device for Google’s nascent digital books platform, and it’ll be available at Target stores nationwide.

The iRiver Story HD goes on sale July 17, and it is in itself a captivating story. Its connectivity with Google eBooks makes it the first device in the world to use the open platform and could add another wrinkle in the rapidly expanding e-book market.

Google eBooks launched in December with apps for Android and iOS devices, as well as a Web-based app accessible from any computer. But the one thing about e-books is that consumers seem to really appreciate actual, dedicated hardware.

That’s why the Kindle and Nook have become such huge success stories. As such, July 17 will be the day when Google “truly” enters the competitive digital book space.

You may know iRiver for its line of affordable MP3 and portable video players. So for that company as well, this is about expansion into a new market.

The biggest part of this story, though, is that the Story HD already has a retail partner, with virtually every Target store around the country poised to put it in stock. The Google eBooks store already has hundreds of thousands of books for purchase, with millions more available for free.

And Google isn’t going to stop there. The one advantage is has over Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, etc, is that Google has no vested manufacturing interest, so it’s free to offer Google eBooks on any device that wants it. And indeed, the online search giant has confirmed that more eBooks-powered devices are in the pipeline.

Whether or not Google eBooks can do for e-readers what Android did for smartphones remains to be seen, but this is certainly a step in that direction.