Update: we've now published a full-review of the Cool-er eBook reader
British start-up company Interead is set to launch the latest electronic book (or 'eBook' as we've all taken to referring to them) at the massive publishing industry shindig that is Book Expo America in New York later this month.
TechRadar is the first media outlet to get hold of a sample of the new device, which you can see pictured right here. We'll bring you our full in-depth review of the Cool-er eBook on Friday of this week, after we have had a couple of days to properly play around with the thing and read a (short) story or two on it.
First impressions are that it is very light and noticeably smaller and funkier-looking than the only other decent eBook currently available in the UK – the Sony Reader. A couple of minutes of tinkering with the Cool-er and you immediately realise what the company is trying to achieve. It is trying to market the idea of the electronic book as a fun entertainment device and, as such, in comparison it makes Sony's poor old Reader seem rather dull and overly serious-minded.
Interead founder Neil Jones says he was tired of readers that were unwieldy, expensive and restrictive in terms of their ability to let you choose and share a wide range of eBooks (read: the Amazon Kindle). In addition to that, the Cool-er is both PC and Mac compatible – a major failing with Sony's fuddy-duddy and clunky-ish old Reader.
So Jones set out to produce a device which was affordable (and at £189 it is well priced), smaller, faster and lighter than the Kindle and the Sony Reader and from first impressions it looks very much like he's achieved that. If anything, from first hand testing in the office, the Cool-er is 'too light' – being around an ounce lighter than a typical paperback. We're not yet sure if this is an altogether good thing, but provided the device is rugged enough to throw in a bag or take to the beach, we're sure it's not a deal-breaker.
The company's line is that its funky and affordable new electronic book - in association with its new, comprehensive electronic book download store at coolerbooks.com with over 750,000 titles available at launch - is set to usher in the "iPod moment that e-readers have been waiting for," by setting up the "iTunes of online bookstores" which they hope will appeal to the non-technologically minded. Interead is already claiming that coolerbooks.com is set to be the biggest e-bookstore in the world. But will it be the best or the most profitable?
Customers that have Kindles or Sony Readers or BeBooks or other non-Interead devices will of course be able to use coolerbooks.com, although Cool-er owners will get a 25 per cent 'for life' discount from the store. Whether or not this new online store will be able to compete with the likes of Waterstone's eBook store in the UK or Amazon's eBook store (which is currently still US only till at least late 2009 at the very earliest) remains to be seen. That will all be down to price points, clever marketing wins and the as-yet-difficult-to-measure whims of the many thousands of eBook users out there.