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Steve Haber, president of Sony's Digital Reading Business Division, holds up the Sony Reader Daily Edition at the New York Public Library on Tuesday. ((Mark Lennihan/Associated Press))

Sony Corp. announced plans to offer an electronic book reader capable of downloading books wirelessly, adopting a key feature of Amazon.com's Kindle reader.

Sony said Tuesday the Reader Daily Edition will go on sale in December, retail in the United States for $399 US and use AT&T Inc.'s cellular network to allow users of the device to get books, daily newspapers and other reading material. No Canadian launch date has been announced.

Previous versions of the Sony Reader have required users to connect to a computer to get books for download rather than receive them wirelessly.

The lack of this feature has given the Kindle an early advantage in the e-book market.

But it's also allowed the Reader to be available to consumers in other countries — like Canada — sooner, as Sony did not need to negotiate a deal with a telecommunications carrier to begin offering the device. The Kindle is not yet available in Canada.

Also on Tuesday, Sony began selling a smaller version of its standard Reader called the Reader Pocket Edition, with a five-inch (12.7-cm) screen, and a larger touch-screen device.

The pocket reader retails in Canada for $279, while the touch-screen device will sell for $399.

Sony also announced users will be able to use its devices to "loan" e-books from libraries, providing access to free books that expire in 21 days.

Richard Doherty, director of research firm The Envisioneering Group, said the loaning plan could differentiate the Reader from the Kindle, as online retailer Amazon is unlikely to allow book "rentals" that might take away from online sales.

Sony's U.S. shares rose 43 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to $27.01 in midday trading, while Seattle-based Amazon gained 30 cents to $84.80.

With files from The Associated Press