The race to offer the biggest electronic bookstore got more competitive today as Sony Corp. announced that users of its e-book readers now have access to more than 1 million free public domain books through the Google Books project.
Sony claimed the news meant it is now the largest source for e-books. It also has an additional 200,000 popular books for sale, including nearly all of the current bestsellers.
However, BarnesandNoble.com LLC on July 20 announced that it had 700,000 e-book titles available, including more than half a million from Google in the public domain.
A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman said today that the Google public domain books are not exclusively available to Sony, and that Barnes & Noble would also have access to Google's e-books.
"We're not saying a number of how many we have available," the spokeswoman said, but she added that the figure was clearly higher than 700,000. With the Google number doubled to 1 million, Barnes & Noble could have as many as 1.2 million, putting it in a tie with Sony.
Amazon.com Inc. is the other big contender in the e-bookstore war, with more than 300,000 titles available for its Kindle e-book readers and Apple iPhones and iPod Touch devices.
Sony's e-books are available on its two e-readers, the PRS-505 and the PRS-700.
Barnes & Noble said it is offering its books for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, BlackBerry smartphones, and soon, exclusively, Plastic Logic Ltd.'s upcoming eReader device. In addition to handhelds, Barnes & Noble supports most Windows and Mac laptops and desktop computers.