Sony e-readers get access to 1M free public domain books from Google

Race for largest e-bookstore resumes as Sony, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble vie for top spot

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.

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