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Amazon announces Kindle for PC (no Kindle device needed, but bring your own PC)

October 22, 2009 |  1:15 pm
Kindle for PC with Twilight
The Kindle for PC software will let users read Amazon's digital books without having to buy the $259 Kindle device. Credit: Amazon

Most people think of Amazon's Kindle as a slim piece of hardware the size of a very thin paperback book.

In fact, Kindle is also a piece of software that displays digital books on any device Amazon chooses. Today, the Seattle online retailing giant unveiled a Kindle version for computers. The application was part of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system launch event in New York this morning. Expected to be released in November, the program will also run on Microsoft's earlier operating systems, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Dubbed Kindle for PC, the free software will let readers view full-color photos and use touch screens to browse books, turn pages and adjust font sizes for digital books purchased at Amazon's online bookstore. Amazon has released a version of the reader for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

Amazon's announcement came days after rival bookseller Barnes & Noble said it would start selling its own device, the nook. Due to ship in November, the $259 reader features the same gray-scale E Ink screen as the Kindle, but also has a separate color touch screen. Nook owners also can share their books with their friends for up to 14 days at a time.

In contrast, the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX, two devices sold by Amazon, has only the gray-scale screens and don't allow users to "lend" digital copies of their books to others.

By releasing Kindle for PC, Amazon is expanding the audience for its digital books beyond just readers who can afford to buy its $259 device to about 1 billion of the world's PC users.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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