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Nokia launches Reading app for Lumia smartphone users

Rolling out this week, the new Reading app and service will let Lumia phone owners find and read books in their native language.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Nokia Lumia owners in Europe will soon be able to pick up and read some of their favorite books through their smartphones.

Like other online bookstores, Nokia Reading is part app and part service. Lumia users will be able to find, browse, buy, and download books written their own native languages along with a host of English-language titles. And thousands of familiar classics will be available for free, according to Nokia.

Owners of the Lumia 900, 800, 710, and 610 are eligible to use the new book service. The initial rollout is slated for users in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and the U.K., but other countries will follow later this year, according to Nokia. The service itself is scheduled to appear in the Nokia collection in the company's Marketplace Web site over the next few weeks.

Reading a book on the small screen of a phone can be a challenge. But Nokia is touting the experience of reading a book on a Lumia phone, saying that the ClearBlack display helps diminish glare, while Microsoft's ClearType technology makes fonts look more sharp.

"The people we hear objections from about reading books on a phone are mainly the people who have never tried it on a Lumia," John Mason, director of the Nokia Reading project, said in a statement. "Once people have it in their hands, they almost always say: 'Oh, this is so much better than I imagined." The key is to try it out."

Nokia is already planning other enhancements to its Reading service, including audio books and a News Stream with access to local and international magazines. These enhancements will pop up as free updates via the Nokia Marketplace.

Nokia Reading was first announced at the Mobile World Congress in February along with a host of other services geared exclusively toward Lumia owners.