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Friday, 20 March 2009 07:50

Sony, Google to offer 500,000 free e-books

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The Google library of scanned public-domain books will be available for free download to the Sony Reader Digital Book, giving it a larger available library than Amazon's Kindle.

The books, which are already available online as PDF files, will be made available by Google in the ePub format, which is compatible with the Sony device. The Kindle, by contrast, only works with files in its own .azw format and unencrypted .mobi books.

Older models of the Digital Book won't work with the Google books files, however, and the Sony e-book store only works with Windows computers. The Kindle lets customers download books directly to the device, wirelessly. The addition of the Google library give the Sony reader access to nearly 600,000 volumes, more than twice as many as the Kindle.

Google spokesperson Jennie Johnson was quoted as saying that the company is open to the idea of making its books available to the Kindle as well. Amazon hasn't weighed in on the idea yet.

The works to be made available were all written before 1923 and are in the public domain. They include such classics as "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens and "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen. Some publishers are concerned that the settlement of the recent lawsuit over Google's ability to offer copyrighted books on its Google Book Search service means that books under copyright could end up on e-book readers, putting the print publishers out of business.

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