March 19, 2009

Google Provides Half A Million Books For The Sony Reader

Sony's electronic book-reading device will be updated with half a million free books from Google that are not protected by copyright, the Associated Press reported.

Google's massive collection of scanned public-domain books will be made available to an e-book device for the first time, putting the Sony Reader past Amazon.com's Kindle as the device with the largest available library, at about 600,000 books.

The scanned works include Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" as well as nonfiction classics like Herodotus' "The Histories." All of the currently available books on the site were published before 1923.

Most of the books can already be downloaded as Portable Document Format (PDF), a format that works with computer screens but not on e-book readers.

The Sony Reader books will all be in the EPUB (electronic publication) format, which lets the lines flow differently to accommodate smaller screens.

The company wants to make the books available as widely as possible, according to Google spokeswoman Jennie Johnson.

Johnson described the company's vision as "any book, anywhere, any time and on any device."

"We want to partner with anybody who shares our vision of making them more accessible," she added.

While Amazon uses its own format for the Kindle, the publishing industry has more or less united on EPUB for e-book distribution.

But certain PC software can un-encrypt EPUB files and convert them to a Kindle supported format.

However, Amazon's $359 Kindle still has an edge over the Sony Reader, as it supports wireless connection directly to its e-book store, which boasts more than 245,000 titles.

Sony Reader users first have to download the files from Sony's Web site using a computer to put books on the Reader.

The two models of the Reader are currently priced at $300 and $350.


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