Sony e-reader users gain free access to classics via Google

Two Sony e-book readers can now access free public domain classic books from Google.

Sony Electronics Inc. said users of its two e-book readers can now access more than 500,000 free public domain classic books from Google Inc. through the Sony eBook Store.

The announcement Wednesday boosts the available titles at Sony's eBook Store to more than 600,000 titles. Inc.'s Kindle library, in comparison, has more than 250,000 titles.

The books from Google can be transferred to Sony's PRS-505 and PRS-700 readers by clicking on a button on the front page at Sony's eBook Store. Those new to the store need to set up an account and then download Sony's free eBook Library software.

Terms of the deal with Google were not announced. Adam Smith, Google's product management director, said in a statement that the Google Book Search was founded "on the premise that anyone, anywhere, anytime should have the tools to the explore the great works of history and culture. ... We believe in an open platform for accessing and reading books, and we're excited to partner with Sony to bring these public domain books to more people."

Steve Haber, president of the digital reading division at Sony Electronics, said Sony is committed to offering an open e-book platform that makes it "easy to find as much content as possible -- from our store or others -- whether that content is purchased, borrowed or free."

Free books from Google include titles by Mark Twain and Jane Austen, with many books in French, German, Italian, Spanish and other languages.

The PRS-505 from Sony sells for about US$300 and, as of Wednesday, the PRS-700 was available for about $350.

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