In one of the biggest projects of its kind, 700 fiction and nonfiction audio book titles from "Wuthering Heights" to "Moby-Dick" will be available for downloading to computers and digital music players, the New York Public Library said.
But while they can be played on hundreds of different digital music players and burned on compact discs, none of the books will work on the top U.S. digital player, Apple Computer's iPod.
The digital books files are based on Microsoft copyright protection software, which automatically expire after 21 days when stored on a computer. The files stored on players or burned onto CDs do not.
Microsoft and Apple have beenfor dominance in the market for software that runs digital audio players.
The debut follows on the heels of the library's electronic books launch last year and is part of its effort to appeal to readers and listeners who turn increasingly to the Internet as their primary source of information.
"We're trying to anticipate and stay ahead of the curve," said Michael Ciccone, the library's head of acquisitions.
The library has been offering electronic text versions of some 3,000 books since last year. These have been borrowed more than 23,000 times, making it one of the biggest tests of its kind, said Steve Potash, chief executive of OverDrive, the company that provides the technology behind the project.
Those files could be read on e-book or handheld computer devices.