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Adobe pens duo of e-book deals

The software company announces that it has acquired e-book software maker Glassbook and will sell books written in PDF on Barnesandnoble.com's Web site.

Adobe Systems boosted its e-book strategy today in two separate deals.

The San Jose, Calif.-based software company announced that it has acquired e-book software maker Glassbook. Adobe also announced a deal with Barnesandnoble.com to promote and sell books written in PDF on the e-tail Web site.

The deals come on the same day that Amazon announced a deal with Microsoft through which the e-tail giant will begin offering e-books in its online bookstore and will promote books published in the Microsoft Reader format.

Microsoft Reader competes directly with Glassbook's Reader software. Unlike Microsoft's product, Glassbook's is compatible with Adobe's PDF.

Michael Looney, senior director of e-books for Adobe, said the company's acquisition of Boston-based Glassbook was principally a cash transaction, but he declined to give more financial details.

Adobe's deal with Barnesandnoble.com involves Adobe licensing its technology to the e-tailer so Barnesandnoble.com can make PDF books available to its customers. As part of the deal, Barnesandnoble.com will be the exclusive U.S.-based e-tailer of PDF e-books for the next three months.

Looney said Adobe chose Barnesandnoble.com over Amazon because of Barnesandnoble.com's experience in the e-book field.

"They've really established themselves as the leader (in e-books) for some time," Looney said.

Although he praised Glassbook's Reader, saying it was the "premier interface" for e-books, Looney said the software will not replace Adobe's popular Acrobat reader. Acrobat, which is widely used by corporations and governments to make offline documents available on the Web, was also designed to read PDF files.

Adobe will offer both programs to consumers, with the Glassbook software targeted at customers interested in reading longer works such as novels, Looney said.

In contrast to Microsoft's Reader, Adobe's PDF allows people to print documents and displays high-resolution graphics and photographs within the text of the document. But those capabilities also can mean larger file sizes than in other formats.