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Audible books new Microsoft deal

The company, which delivers audio versions of books and newspapers online, agrees to integrate its playback technology with Microsoft's Internet book software, furthering the two firms' relationship.

LAS VEGAS--Audible, which delivers audio versions of books and newspapers online, said it agreed to integrate its playback technology with Microsoft's Internet book software.

Audible didn't disclose the terms of the agreement, which expands an earlier alliance. Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates demonstrated the product at the 2000 International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The agreement allows users of Microsoft's Reader software to read or listen to book titles electronically. They'll also be able to browse, subscribe to and buy more than 20,000 hours of audio content available on Audible's Web site. Audio content is among the most popular products on the Internet, and this agreement will allow Audible to further tap that demand.

"People will have the option to listen to books as easily as they can read them," said Dick Brass, vice president of technology development at Microsoft.

Microsoft is an investor in Wayne, N.J.-based Audible. In August, the two companies agreed to make Audible's audio books and other publications available to Microsoft's 40 million Windows Media Player users.

Audible's shares climbed 0.5 to 14.69 in Nasdaq trading after rising as high as 16.19. Audible first sold shares to the public in July at $9 each. Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., rose 1.44 to 111.44.

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