Amazon Offers Free Kindle Software for PC

Amazon.com Inc. is trying to get more people to buy the electronic books that are compatible with its Kindle gadget by offering free software for people to read them on a computer.

The Seattle-based online retailer said Thursday that it will release an application called "Kindle for PC" in November. It will let you buy, download and read Kindle books on a Windows-based PC, regardless of whether you own a Kindle.

If you also own a Kindle, you can see any notes or highlights made on the e-reader.

Amazon will also keep track of where you are in a book, so you can stop reading on your PC and pick up at the same place on your Kindle.

If you're running Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows 7 operating system and have a touch screen on your computer, you can zoom in on book pages by pinching your fingers. In the future, Amazon said, you'll be able to turn pages by swiping a finger across the screen.

The company already offers a similar application for Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPod Touch that lets users read Kindle books whether or not they own the device.

Amazon is facing a rising tide of competition in the e-reader market from companies like Sony Corp. and Barnes & Noble Inc. Sony already offers several e-readers, and both companies plan to release wireless-enabled devices soon that, like the Kindle, will be able to download books straight to them. Making Kindle books available to consumers who don't want to buy a dedicated reading device may provide another stream of revenue.

Also Thursday, Amazon said that it lowered the price of its newest Kindle by $20, to $259, matching the cost of a U.S.-only device that it is discontinuing. The new version has wireless access that works around the world, replacing a model that worked only in the U.S.

Just two weeks ago, when it introduced the international Kindle, Amazon cut prices for the U.S. version by $40, to $259.

The company still sells a larger-screen version of the Kindle called the DX for $489.
By Rachel Metz
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App