Sony Adds Half a Million Public Domain Google Books to Reader

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Sony Adds Half a Million Public Domain Google Books to Reader

By Charlie Sorrel EmailMarch 19, 2009 | 5:36:39 AMCategories: Books

Sony has inked (e-inked?) a deal with Google to bring half a million public domain books to its Reader e-book device, but surprise! Being a Sony service it looks to be awkward to use and no better than just grabbing the texts from Project Gutenberg.

Google has been scanning and textifying public domain texts in its attempt to organize the world’s information, and now they’ll be available for Sony’s e-book reader. This initiative, while certainly laudable as a way to get free books properly formatted for the device, really shows up the Sony Reader and its lack of a wireless internet connection.

First, you need to go to the Sony eBook Store and grab the PC software. Then you can search from the comfort of your own computer the half million books Sony has grabbed from Google. Then you need to sideload the content onto your Reader.

Worse, try going to the eBook site to find the Google link. You’ll have to scroll around. Sony’s web designers have decided to make the word “Google” appear only in jpeg form, so no quick page-search to find it.

Oh, Sony. It’s a nice try, but we think you already lost this one. The Kindle is currently the iPod of e-book readers, and while it doesn’t do everything, what it does do it does right. Plus, you can download any of Project Gutenberg’s free books, or even Google’s, directly, even on the beach. If you really want to read  Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”, that is.

Product page [Sony]

Press release[PR Newswire via Reuters]

2 thoughts on “Sony Adds Half a Million Public Domain Google Books to Reader”

  1. Who am I to argue with Wired, but I’m not sure that Kindle has won this in the long term.

    Sony’s ability to accept ebooks from various vendors is a huge benefit in my opinion. Perhaps Amazon will win out on the sale of ebook content to individual customers through the Kindle, but I think a reader without such a limited content set will win out overall. Perhaps that will not be Sony though.

  2. There is a link in the Sony ebook store that takes you directly to the Google books. It then displays a subject guide, but you can also search for keywords within the text, much like in the Google Books site itself. I do wonder whether this deal makes Sony any stronger, but if it doesn’t, it’s not for the reasons Wired mentioned. The current content may be more important in this war. Still, I’d like to think that Sony has set itself up for the long term by adopting ePub. You can get a lot of Gutenberg as ePub now too. For a Kindle, you still have to jump through some hoops conversion-wise.

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