Through a partnership with Google and a Korean multimedia device company, Target Corporation will be the exclusive U.S. seller of a new e-reader device, the Minneapolis-based retailer said Monday.
The device-the Iriver Story HD-will retail for $139.99 when it hits Target shelves nationwide on Sunday. It's the first e-reader that's fully integrated with Google's eBooks platform, and it will offer more than 3 million e-books at no cost; thousands more will be available for sale.
The device is made by Iriver, Ltd., a Korea-based developer of portable multimedia products; its products include e-readers and Tablet PCs, and Iriver already has a presence in the European e-reader market.
A Target spokeswoman said Monday that some smaller online retailers in the United States will begin selling the Iriver Story HD on August 27; until then, Target will be the exclusive seller-and after that, Target will be the device's exclusive brick-and-mortar retailer.
"With the rapid advancements of e-readers and tablets, the Iriver Story HD's superior features and integration with Google eBooks sets it apart," Nik Nayar, Target's vice president of merchandising, said in a statement. "Target is excited to bring this new e-reader to our guests before any other retailer."
The e-reader market is growing rapidly. Global market intelligence provider International Data Corporation, or IDC, forecasts that the worldwide e-reader market will ship 16.2 million units in 2011, representing a 24 percent increase over 2010.
According to IDC, Barnes & Noble's Color Nook prompted the company to take the lead in the e-reader market during the first quarter of this year-a first for it. The previous leader, the Amazon Kindle, came in second.
According to Target's Web site, it now sells various versions of the Kindle, and e-readers by Sony, Kobo, and Pandigital.
Here's a look at how the Iriver Story HD compares to other popular e-readers that are already dominating the e-reader marketplace (note that there are multiple versions of some of the products listed below; those listed have non-color displays and are the closest in price to the Iriver Story HD):