Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Amazon will provide e-books for iPhones and iPods plans to release a program today for reading electronic books on Apple iPhones, extending Amazon's sales of digital books to devices beyond its own Kindle e-book reader.

Amazon's software application, which can be downloaded for free, allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to read books or periodicals purchased on the Web or through their dedicated Kindle device, usually for $9.99. Using a service that Amazon calls whispersync, the program keeps track of a readers' latest page in any given book across both a Kindle and iPhone.

"There are times when you're going to be in a place where you happen to have your iPhone but not your Kindle," said Ian Freed, an Amazon vice president. "If I get stuck in line at the grocery store, I can pick up where I was reading with my iPhone."

Other e-book providers, such as Indigo Books and Music Inc.'s Shortcovers, already allow users to buy and read books on the iPhone. Amazon also faces competition from Google, which allows users to read e-books via a Web site optimized for the iPhone screen.

Freed said he is "not at all concerned" that making e-books available on other devices will cannibalize sales of the $359 Kindle. Instead, it will increase sales of digital books and the Kindle, he says. Amazon says it plans to release applications to read Kindle books on other devices, but declined to specify which ones.

Freed expects that users of the iPhone application would read their books for 20 to 30 minutes at most, after which eye strain or battery life might become a problem. (info from The Wall Street Journal)

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