'The Naked and the Dead' head for the Kindle

"The Naked and the Dead" and "Invisible Man" are among iconic novels heading for Kindle electronic readers after a deal between Amazon.com and The Wylie Agency.

Works by Norman Mailer, Ralph Ellison, and other influential authors made digital debuts on Thursday exclusively at the online Kindle Store, Amazon and Wylie said Thursday in a joint release.

"As the market for e-books grows, it will be important for readers to have access in e-book format to the best contemporary literature the world has to offer," said Andrew Wylie, president of the agency's Odyssey Editions.

"This publishing program is designed to address that need."

The 20 books Wylie is publishing for Kindle in digital format include "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov, "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie, and Spanish work "Ficciones" by Jorge Luis Borges.

"Our goal with Kindle is to make every book, ever published, in print or out of print, available in less than 60 seconds," said vice president of Kindle content Russ Grandinetti.

"We're excited to let our customers read books like 'Rabbit Run' for the first time ever electronically."

Readers can download the books from the Kindle Store for 9.99 dollars and read them on devices ranging from Amazon's e-reader to iPhones, computers and Android-based gadgets.

The announcement came as Kindle faces increasing pressure in a market that Amazon pioneered and dominated until Apple launched its hot-selling iPad computer tablets in April.

Apple this week credited the iPad and the latest generation iPhone with propelling its profit to a new high in the fiscal quarter that ended June 26.

The Cupertino, California-based company said its net profit rose 78 percent to 3.25 billion dollars in the quarter, during which it sold 3.27 million iPads.

While Amazon does not reveal Kindle sales figures, the number of iPads cranked out by Apple exceeds some estimates of the ranks of Kindle owners.

Kindle is believed to have an edge when it comes to the number of titles offered for reading on Kindle devices, but the iPad is a sophisticated tablet computer with color touchscreen and features beyond digital books.

Meanwhile, US book powerhouse Barnes & Noble on Thursday released a version of its Nook e-book software for smartphones or tablets running on Google-backed Android software.

"Nook for Android" will be followed in the coming months by updated Nook applications for iPhones and iPads, according to Barnes & Noble, which sells e-readers branded with the same name.

"We're excited to deliver the most-requested version of our free eReading software to the growing number of mobile customers using Android-based devices," said Douglas Gottlieb, vice president of digital products at Barnes & Noble.