Amazon.com 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.