announced that owners of the Sony Reader can now access over 1 million free, out of copyright and public domain eBooks from the Google Books library. Sony first announced this deal with Google earlier this year, but at that time, it only offered about 500,000 free books. Barnes & Noble, which announced its eBook store and forthcoming hardware eReader last week currently features about 500,000 free books from Google, while Amazon's Kindle can read free books from Project Gutenberg, but doesn't offer compatibility with the ePub format that Google prefers. Amazon currently offers about 300,000 books.Sony just
Competition Switches from Hardware to eBook Stores?
With the Kindle, Amazon has created the current de facto standard for hardware eReaders, but the market is still young enough for others to be able to regain the lead again. The fact that Sony bothered to send out press releases about the fact that it now offers 1 million free books clearly shows that the competition in the eBook market is heating up.
Sadly, most eReaders are locked down with digital rights management software, so that users can't just transfer books from one device to another. Because of this, users are locked into one store once they buy an eReader, and the availability of books in the eReader's eBook store could easily sway customers in one direction or another. While Sony offers more free books than other companies, the average price in the Sony eBook store is generally higher than the standard $9.99 that Barnes & Noble and Amazon are charging.
It is worth noting that Google only scans these free books and doesn't edit them in any form, so that they often contain spelling errors.
If you own a Sony Reader and want to access these free eBooks, you can download the necessary software here. The PRS-500, one of Sony's first eReaders, however, is not compatible with the Google Books software.