Adobe Labs has released Digital Editions, Mac-compatible beta software for reading and managing eBooks.

The 2.5MB application is described as "built from the ground up as a lightweight, rich internet application". The software works both on and offline and supports PDF and XHTML publications.

A range of free publications and excerpts have also been made available which users of the application can take a look at. The company wants feedback on the application so it can fine-tune it for eventual release.

It's a companion product to Acrobat Reader, the company says, pointing out that the latter software offers a range of features that aren't useful to eBook readers.

"Reader's power, complexity, and size are not optimal for consumer-level eBook reading," the company said.

For the Mac OS on PowerPC, Adobe Digital Editions requires Mac OS X version 10.3.9 (or higher) or 10.4.8 (or higher), a 500MHz or faster PowerPC G4 or G5 processor and 128 MB of RAM.

For the Mac OS on Intel, Adobe Digital Editions requires Mac OS X version 10.4.8 (or higher), a 500MHz or faster processor and 128 MB of RAM.

The company also plans making versions of the software available for other platforms and devices.

The software is expected to ship in the furst half of 2007.