With rumors flying that two major companies are about to launch new electronic reading devices, Sony has quietly expanded the distribution network for its Sony Reader. When it debuted last November, the Reader was available only through Sonystyle retail stores and several hundred Borders superstores. Since the holiday season, Fry's Electronics, J&R Electronics and B&H Photo & Electronics have added the player, while some smaller specialty chains, such as DataVision, RCS and ABT, are also now carrying the device. CompUSA is expected to go national with the Reader later this month.

Borders spokesperson Anne Roman couldn't provide sales figures on how the Reader has performed, although she noted that the chain was "very pleased with the customer reception" of the player. Roman said Borders will continue to carry it, although she wouldn't comment on whether the retailer will add the player to more stores.

There are now more than 12,000 titles available for the Reader; there were about 10,000 at launch. E-books can be purchased only through the Sony Connect online store, where they sell at about a 20% discount compared to suggested e-book prices, which are generally substantially lower than print prices. The price for the Reader itself has not come down since it was introduced; it continues to carry a suggested retail price of $349.99.

Shortly after the launch of the Reader, Sony started an e-book bestseller list. The top 10 bestselling e-books for the week ended February 23 were all from major houses, and with the exception of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Everything, were all fiction titles. Four of the top 10 titles, including Sony's top seller, James Patterson's Step on a Crack, were also on PW's hardcover list for the same week.