Interead's marketing team is talking to supermarkets, bookstores and other retailers about getting the devices into the hands of everyday readers, in addition to the early adopter market (many of whom will have already shelled out for a Sony Reader and most likely be waiting for the arrival of those touchscreen, internet-connected devices with colour e-ink screens which we are bound to see over the next year or two).
Looks wise, it looks like an oversized iPod nano, it comes in eight different colours (including the rather girly 'hot pink' or 'vivid violet' and the slightly more conservative 'silver shine' or 'black jack') and it fits neatly into your jacket pocket, exactly in the same way as a Penguin Classic paperback. Natch!
As well as working with your PC or Mac, the Cool-er supports eight languages (English, French, German, Portugese, Russian, Spanish, traditional and simplified Chinese), its rechargeable battery lasts for 8000 page turns (ie more books than pretty much anybody could read on their honeymoon oepub, txt, jpeg, any kind of PDF, plus MP3 for music and audiobooks), and the DRM is not totally restrictive - as it lets you share the eBooks you download from coolerbooks.com with up to five other devices or friends or family members - in an attempt to encourage sharing, foster a new culture of online book clubs and to combat the ever-present menace that is digital content piracy.
Overall, while it has some serious competition from the behemoths that are Sony and Amazon, the Cool-er eBook is the best contender we've so far seen – and while it is 'feature-light' in comparison with the latest (notably more expensive) 3G or Wi-Fi, text-to-speech and touchscreen devices from the big boys – it covers all the basic features that the mass market consumer is going to want from an eBook when that "iPod moment for e-readers" arrives. It delivers eBooks well on a nice looking device that you are not going to feel embarrassed about pulling out on the tube or in an airport lounge.
The real question is whether or not that moment is now or five or ten years from now, with Interead clearly hedging its bets on it being sooner rather than later.
So there we go. They were our first few impressions of the latest eBook on the market snapping at the heels of the burgeoning electronic book publishing industry. Stay tuned for our first in-depth review of Interead's Cool-er eBook later this very week.
Finally, if you fancy checking the device out for yourself and happen to be in New York next week, then head over to Book Expo America to say hi to the designers and the Interead team at the company's beachside bar (which - in fitting with the 'eBooks are fun' ethos - is set to be fully complete with hot cocktail waiters, a samba band and sand!!)