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Amazon eats open ebook reader

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Amazon has acquired Lexcycle, maker of the popular Stanza (iTunes link) ebook software for the iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, Windows PCs - and Amazon's own Kindle 2.

The acquisition was announced Monday in a posting on Lexcycle's blog, which stated that "we believe there is a lot of innovation ahead for ebooks and we could not think of a better company to join during this exciting time."

Amazon appears to agree - and it's equally apparent that the company wants to sell content to the 37 million iPhone and iPod touch owners that Apple has attracted.

According to Lexcycle, there were over a million free downloads of Stanza in 2008. The Stanza library includes over 100,000 books and periodicals, including Stephanie Meyer's überpopular Twilight, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, and novels by Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, and many others.

Amazon uses a proprietary ebook format for its Kindle 2, but Stanza and its desktop offshoots support not only the non-proprietary .epub format from the International Digital Publishing Forum, but also eReader, PDF, Mobipocket, and Microsoft Reader.

Although Amazon's free Kindle for iPhone (iTunes link) gives iPhone and iPod touch owners access to the Kindle Store, the Lexcycle acquisition not only expands the Amazon's reach into the existing mobile market, but also positions it to become the go-to source for ebooks for upcoming devices such as the Palm Pre, Android smartphones and netbooks, and other MIDs (mobile internet devices). ®

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