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E-book readers check in to hotels

Hotels in New York, Miami, and Turks & Caicos are now offering guests Sony Readers for loan. New York's storied Algonquin Hotel, meanwhile, already offers Amazon's Kindle.

Sony Reader at Epic Hotel
Using a Sony Reader, a guest at Miami's Epic Hotel catches up on summer reading on the hotel's 16th floor pool deck. Epic Hotel

Open the nightstand in some hotels these days and you'll find a Sony Reader alongside the bible. Expanding a hotel trend of offering access to high-tech amenities like iPods, a number of establishments are now adding complimentary e-book readers to their lists of perks.

OK, the gadgets won't literally be next to the bible. At Gansevoort establishments in Manhattan, Miami, and Turks & Caicos, guests can relax poolside with Sony Readers, doled out for free on a first-come, first-served basis. (New York's Gansevoort also lends out Nintendo Wiis.)

Kimpton's swank new Epic Hotel in Miami, meanwhile, has just launched Epic Page Turner, a whole program centered on reading. In addition to giving guests a complimentary copy of an old-fashioned paper book (remember those?), the hotel loans out Sony Readers. An online "Epic Virtual Nightstand" lets guests access book excerpts from an in-room desktop computer.

The Readers at Epic come preloaded with excerpts and at least one complimentary title, but if you want to read more, it'll cost you. About 200,000 additional requested titles are available at a cost of the book's price (generally $15 per title or less), plus a small download fee, which Epic will donate to the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe Counties.

It's nice to see hotels accommodating techie bibliophiles, though Sony Readers may have some stiff competition for guests' eyes. At the Epic, at least, the devices will be battling with flat-screen LCDs between 37 and 42 inches.

Meanwhile, New York's Algonquin Hotel, which is known as a gathering place for literary and artistic luminaries, has been offerings guests use of Amazon's Kindle since last year. Naturally, Kindle-using guests at the Algonquin can read titles from Algonquin Round Table authors like Edna Ferber and Robert Benchley.