RealTime IT News

Microsoft Reader Gets a Boost

Microsoft Corp. scored a win for its Microsoft Reader when Amazon.com selected the e-book software as the preferred format for its planned e-book store.

Microsoft said it will create a customized Amazon.com version of Microsoft Reader, giving consumers the ability to purchase and download e-book titles directly from Amazon.com and read them in Microsoft Reader format.

Financial arrangements between the companies were not disclosed.

BarnesandNoble.com, one of Amazon.com's chief competitors. already has an e-book store online and offers readers their choice of a variety of formats, including the one from Microsoft, with which it has a partner deal.

Consumers already can download Microsoft Reader at no charge at a special Microsoft site. The reader includes ClearType display technology that improves font resolution on LCD screens for users of desktop or laptop PCs running the Windows operating system. Competitor readers include Glassbook and Gemstar's Rocket eBook and Softbook, among others.

The popularity of e-books clearly is growing, but it remains to be seen just how viable the medium is. Writer Stephen King recently released a book online and publishing house Simon & Schuster, which has been an early adopter of electronic publishing, just last week announced its first full season of original e-books, to be published beginning this fall. The list featured titles from every Simon & Schuster book publishing division.