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Bertelsmann funds Web books

The VC arm of Bertlesmann AG invests in the Silicon Valley start-up, which is developing a hand-held device allowing users to read electronic books over the Web.

Bertelsmann Ventures today made an investment in NuvoMedia, a Silicon Valley start-up that is developing a hand-held device allowing users to publish, distribute, buy, and read electronic books over the Web.

The deal is another sign of the push onto the Web by media giants. Bertelsmann Ventures is the venture capital fund of Bertlesmann AG, one of the world's largest media companies, with interests in books, magazines, newspapers, music, television, and the Internet. In February, Bertelsmann said it planned enter the online book wars under the name Books online

Competition in that burgeoning market is stiff, however, from the likes of Amazon.com and Borders.com, among others.

"The strategic and financial support we've received from Bertelsmann Ventures further validates our belief in RocketBook," the company's electronic book and distribution system, Martin Eberhard, chief executive of NuvoMedia, said in a statement.

Added Henric Buettner, general partner of Bertesmann Ventures: "We're very excited about NuvoMedia's electronic book distribution system, because it successfully addresses a publisher's most critical concern--maintaining control of its intellectual property."

RocketBook, a 20-ounce hand-held device, can hold at least 4,000 pages of text and graphics at a time. It has a battery life of 20 hours. The product is expected to be available during the fourth quarter of 1998.

Privately held NuvoMedia was founded in April 1997. Barnesandnoble.com also is a business partner of the company.