said on Thursday that digital books ordered for use on its Kindle electronic reader can now be read on personal computers.

Amazon will provide a software application -- available next month as a free download -- that can convert Kindle books to PC-readable ones. The move follows the launch this week of a competing device, the Nook, from bookseller Barnes & Noble that sports a similar function.

The latest e-reader from Sony Corp is also compatible with PCs.

Amazon's Kindle has enjoyed dominant market share in the still-nascent electronic reader market, but analysts say increasing functionality is key to maintaining that top ranking.

Books ordered through Amazon's online store can be read on the Kindle, as well as on Apple Inc's iPhone and iPod Touch.

The company added that owning a Kindle was not required to access Amazon's digital bookstore, which includes more than 350,000 books.