Bookselling chain Dymocks have upped the ante Downunder by announcing they’ll be selling the iRex iLiad, an A$899 gadget that lets you download and read ebooks on a paper-like screen.
The move caps off a series of ebook moves by Dymocks including the recent announcement that they’ll begin selling ebooks from their website, a partnership with Aussie ebook distributor eBook.com to support a new format for reading ebooks online, and the installation of in-store kiosks in their flagship George Street, Sydney store to let buyers browse and buy ebooks. It marks the first high profile announcement of in-store retail availability for ebook hardware in this part of the world, albeit on a modest scale – the iLiad will initially only be available from Dymocks’ George Street store and via their website dymocks.com.au.
Among the special features of the iLiad are its larger screen, the ability to write on, as well as read from, the screen, and wireless internet access via the WiFi (802.11b/g) system used by notebook computers. Memory is expandable with the addition of MMC and CF cards, the same type used in digital cameras.
The iLiad is about the size of a medium sized paperback (a B format in book industry parlance) where most of its competitors, such as the recently announced Amazon Kindle, are closer to the size of the smallest paperbacks, the so-called A format. It supports a number of common ebook formats including PDF, HTML and Mobipocket. The latter is one of the most popular ebook formats with optional support for a DRM (Digital Rights Management) encryption system to protect ebooks from illegal copying. Dymocks claims to have 23,000 mobipocket-formatted ebooks in its online store. Mobipocket is an Amazon-owned company.
The iLiad’s maker is iRex, a Dutch company spun off from electronics giant Philips. iRex is the co-developer of e-Ink which is the paper-like screen technology that’s increasingly being used in dedicated ebook readers including the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader.
The full press release from Dymocks regarding the iLiad is here.