literati-sharper-image-08-25-2010

Sharper Image, like so many others, has now dipped their toes in the e-reader market with the Literati. It’s a color e-reader sporting a 7-inch 800 x 480 resolution display, comes in white or black with a free case (beat that, Amazon!). It also arrives with 150 preloaded public domain books, and you can buy new bestsellers from Kobo via the built-in WiFi. It doesn’t look there’s anything like a web browser, though — this thing is pretty barebones, and there’s no word on PDF support. It can be had for $159 this October.

The Literati by The Sharper Image® Opens New Chapter on eReaders: Color, Affordability, Simplicity & Style

Ships October 2010 to 7,000 Retail Stores Creating the Broadest Retail Footprint of Any eReader

FOOTHILL RANCH, CA and NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwire – August 25, 2010) – Opening a new front in the eReader wars, the Literati™ by The Sharper Image® strikes a blow against the technology elite in favor of booklovers. The new color electronic reader bypasses high prices and feature bloat, offering instead an affordable, stylish and simple device for those who just want to read.

After an extensive two-year design and development process, the Literati (www.LiteratiReader.com) will ship nationwide in early October to more than 7,000 retail stores — including Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and more — creating the broadest retail footprint of any eReader currently available. Holiday shoppers are expected to benefit from the current eReader price competition and find the Literati priced for $159 or less through rebates, special offers and promos.

“The majority of eReaders available today are either too expensive with too many features, or the manufacturer has slashed key functionality and overall device quality to lower the price,” said Kirk McLean, co-founder of MerchSource, the company that designed and distributes the Literati under trademark license from The Sharper Image. “We designed the Literati from the inside out — starting with the bookstore — to give booklovers exactly what they wanted: a simple, dedicated device that lets them get right to the book.”

“The Literati’s greatest innovation is its out-of-the-box simplicity,” added McLean. “We also involved our retailers early on in the design process. Their feedback informed not only the Literati’s design aesthetic, but also the consumers experience from the minute they turn it on.”

Development of the Literati began with the selection of the global eBook service, Kobo, which is backed by US-based Borders and Canadian-based Indigo Books & Music. Kobo’s firmware was built right into the Literati, ensuring that readers would have instant access to a bookstore with nearly two million titles, including New York Times bestsellers, new releases, cookbooks, children’s books, magazines, newspapers, and more.

Among the key features of the Literati are:

* A 7-inch color screen (creating one of the few dedicated color eReaders);
* Intelligent Wi-Fi connectivity;
* An overall beautiful design aesthetic;
* Portability and durability; and
* Inclusion of Kobo’s free reading apps for smartphones, tablets, computers and laptops mean that Literati readers can seamlessly switch from device to device and never lose their place thanks to a persistent bookmark.

The Literati will come in two color models: white and black / brushed metallic.

Each Literati includes a quality case, comes preloaded with 25 treasured classics, and includes a special coupon code for automatically loading another 125 pre-selected free titles directly into the Literati user’s account. Readers also can customize their bookshelves, bookmarks and reading experience, and can browse, purchase and download new books with just a few clicks.

“Consumers have traditionally looked to The Sharper Image every holiday season for great gift ideas that will exceed the recipient’s expectations,” said Federico de Bellegarde, SVP for The Sharper Image Licensing. “That is why we are thrilled to add the Literati, one of the most stylish and affordable new eReaders, to our holiday product offerings this year and we fully expect it to be a great success.”

“Kobo’s eReading service is designed to give eReader manufacturers and consumers access to Kobo’s global eBook service on a variety of devices,” said Todd Humphrey, Vice President of Business Development for Kobo. “The Literati is a great example of a broadly distributed new device using Kobo software to provide a world-class eBook store.”

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The Literati will be available for purchase both in-store and online beginning in October at Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and others (full list of retail stores will be available at www.LiteratiReader.com). In addition, the Literati will be available for purchase online at SharperImage.com and Overstock.com.

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About MerchSource
Founded in 2000, MerchSource, LLC markets and distributes consumer products and supplies to the retail sector. The company supplies multiple product categories such as electronic goods, toys, household accessories and pet products.

About The Sharper Image
The Sharper Image® offers a broad range of exciting, innovative and technology rich products of superior quality and design. The Sharper Image is owned by a joint venture between Bluestar Alliance, Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers. For more information, please visit www.sharperimageusa.com.

About “Powered by Kobo”
“Powered by Kobo” is an eBook partner program from Kobo, a global eBook service backed by Indigo Books & Music, Borders Group, REDgroup Retail, and Cheung Kong Holdings. It provides a flexible solution for hardware manufacturers and retailers worldwide to launch an eReader or eBook store. “Powered by Kobo” partners have access to Kobo’s catalogue of more than two million titles and applications for smartphones, netbooks, laptops, tablets and dedicated eReaders. Kobo’s vision is to deliver any book on any device and is a strong voice in the eBook industry supporting open standards for eBooks and eReaders. For more information, visit www.kobobooks.com.










Chris Gullo