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Nintendo getting on e-reader train, too

Long available overseas, a cartridge book collection is coming to the U.S. Could this be the beginning of something big?

Nintendo's take on the e-reading experience. GameSpot

Electronic reading, whether it be via slate, phone or dedicated e-reader, has been a huge development as of late. It comes as little surprise, then, that Nintendo has announced its "100 Classic Books" cartridge for release in the U.S. on June 14.

Containing 100 public-domain books packaged in a relatively attractive library format, the collection includes many chestnuts familiar to fans of free e-reader apps: Jules Verne, Bram Stoker, Jane Austen. Already available for some time overseas, it's surprising that Nintendo waited this long for a U.S. release.

Then again, it could be perfect timing.

Nintendo's larger-screened DSi XL is due for release on March 28 for $190, according to Nintendo's media event held this morning. Though many have scoffed at a larger device with two big screens, the smaller-than-a-paperback DSi XL could be an ideal e-reader when turned on its side in "book" format.

DSi XL: Made for e-reading?

A number of DS games have already explored this side-view mode, from Brain Age to Rhythm Heaven. With two screens, books could be flipped through using the touch-screen and stylus. And, at $190, the DSi XL is cheaper than a Kindle.

Yes, $20 is a lot to pay for no-copyright literature, especially since the iPhone and Kindle offers ways to read the same content for free. Then again, maybe this cartridge is just paving the way for Nintendo to offer e-books downloaded directly from the DSi Shop.

What do you think? Is Nintendo desperately trying to enter a crowded market, or does it have something here?