Sony to Offer 1 Million Google Books Through Its Readers

Sony agrees to offer 1 million digital books from Google's book store, which is also being leveraged by Barnes & Noble. It's early, but Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle are positioned to win the war over which digital handhelds users download digital books to for reading. Google, meanwhile, continues to face scrutiny over its ambitious book search project.

Sony proved that it isn't spooked by the fact that the Department of Justice is formally investigating the settlement that lets Google scan books online and grant access to them for a fee.

The Sony eBook Store, which offers digital books consumers can download and read via Sony's Reader handheld gadgets, is providing access to more than 1 million free public domain books from Google's Books scanning service, Sony said July 29.

Titles, available in the EPUB format and optimized for Sony Reader, include classics, such as Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," as well as a host of biographies, historical texts, romance novels and other genres.

Sony Reader owners in the United States can download and transfer any of these titles to their PRS-505 or PRS-700 Reader. New eBook Store users can access available titles after setting up an account and downloading Sony's free eBook Library software.

"We're proud to offer access to the broadest range of eBooks today-from hot new releases, to New York Times Best Sellers, to classics and hard-to-find manuscripts such as those available for free from Google," Chris Smythe, director of the eBook Store from Sony, said in a statement.

Sony has more details about its PRS-505 and PRS-700 Reader models, which support personal documents and music files and offer up to 7,500 pages of continuous reading before the battery must be recharged, here.

Separately, Google and Sony have partnered on a promotional game to boost support for Google Books and the Sony Readers.

In the 10 Days in Google Books contest, users must search Google Books to answer five book-related questions per day and write a brief note about books. The winner will receive a Sony Reader, valued at around $300.

This is quite the little marketing play for Google, which is trying to stimulate interest in its Books search site while a U.S. District Court weighs its $125 million settlement with publishers over scanning books online for the Google Books Search service.

In addition to DOJ scrutiny over whether this deal is anti-competitive, this settlement is facing stiff opposition from consumer advocates who fear Google isn't properly considering reader privacy as it seeks approval for the settlement.

Sony, meanwhile, has its own work cut out for it in competing with bookseller Barnes & Noble, which pledged to offer more than 700,000 titles, including half a million public domain books from Google. Amazon's Kindle store now offers 300,000 titles, but has not said whether it will offer titles from Google, too.