back to article Google kicks Amazon in the Kindle

Escalating the ebook wars, Google has backed Sony's Reader Digital Book with more than half a million public-domain titles coded in the open ePub format. The move, announced today, gives Sony's eBook store more than 600,000 titles in total, dwarfing the roughly 245,000 closed-format titles currently available for the much- …


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  1. David Eyes

    Great but wait a minute

    This is really great news in opening up the whole ebook platform, which is great, and upping the DRM vs. open debate. Amazon has had a great closed ecosystem, this may give them the pressure to loosen up a bit.

    Meanwhile, its pretty obvious that none of the press on this has actually SEEN a book scanned by Google. The fact is, the OCR is about 98% accurate, and despite doing some great auto-formatting for recognizing chapter breaks and such, there is plenty of garbage left in there and you are not getting a bona fide "bought book" experience.

    That said, it's hard to argue with half a million otherwise totally arcane books that can be downloaded into a tolerably readable format. However, if you're reading a classic as touted in the PR, like Mark Twain or Charles Dickens -- pay the $2 or whatever to acquire a truly well formatted book.

  2. Simon Hall

    What about the PSP???

    Ok Sony. Where is the update for the PSP with the PDF reader in it. It should have been in the original firmware......How many PSP's are there out there?....millions. Get with the program Sony!

    It's just ridiculous! Another piece of electronics that does just one thing! Green, very Green Now they have the PSP channel, you would think that a reader with access to content would be the next logical step..

    Sony. Please, Please Update the firmware on the PSP and get rid of that ridiculous reader.

  3. Nick

    US Only - what a crock

    So, how come when I bought this thing I don't remember Sony advising me that I would be getting a second rate service. You can't download the e-library version, nor the new firmware release outside US and Canada.

  4. Antony Riley

    How long before....

    eBooks go the way of the pirate bay (if they haven't already).

    DRM is inherently defeatable, which has been shown numerous times before.

    Authors typically don't have the public performance revenue stream of music artists, how are they going to make any money ? Where's the incentive for an author to write any more books if there is no revenue model.

    The only thing stopping this from happening is a few old fogies who grew up with real paper books, who find reading books on a computer screen or electronic device tedious.

    The people behind Google must realise this, I'm not so sure about Sony, they still seem to think they can stop internet piracy. Is Google intentionally trying to destroy the book market, and what is in it for them?

  5. Anonymous Coward
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    I always pirate AND buy my books, purely because I can enjoy the best of both world. My Sony reader for travel and my proper books at home. e-inks tech still do not provide the contrast I need, hence I actually prefer proper books for now.

  6. Roger Williams
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    Close, but no cigar

    Unfortunately, it's not true that you can actually "download the [ePub titles] from the Sony eBook store free of charge". The only thing you can actually download is a Windows-only "eBook Library Software" application, which purportedly can be used to download the "free" titles for you.

    I make heavy use of my PRS-505, but I'm damned if I'm going to patronise a shop that erects those sorts of obstacles to using their product...

  7. Frank

    @Various re. US/Can purchases

    Can anyone advise if it is possible to use a proxy server located in the US/Can to access the eBook stores there (for free ebooks). Also, I understand that in the USA you can buy pre-paid credit cards - in which case it should be possible to get a USA based friend to buy the card for you, send you the card details (a trusted friend obviously) and then you can use the pre-paid credit card to pay US/Can prices for retail ebooks.

    I have the PC based Mobipocket reader on my laptop and my netbook and use to get free e-books. I did look at a major US ebook selling site and was happy with the prices that I saw there and tried to buy an ebook. The site then told me it was for US/Can sales only - damn. So, I went to a UK ebook site and quickly noticed that the prices were twice as much as in the US - double damn.

    I'll stay with Gutenberg for now and try Google, for out of copyright 'classics'. I'll maybe start buying ebooks in the future - if the time ever comes when I don't get the feeling that I'm being ripped off.

  8. Anonymous Coward
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    Good for Sony. Amazon should have released an open device instead of this DRM piece of crap. After all they are not subsidizing Kindles (as far as I am aware).

  9. Grant Mitchell
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    The Sony book store is US only. The UK is served by their tie in with Waterstones. Can anyone see them give away free books (considering their ebooks are often more expensive than hardback equivalents!).

    I bought a Sony reader for the other half, and now buy all books for it from fictionwise.

  10. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Any one tried viewing Word docs with images on a PRS-505?

    Word 2003 or RTF docs with images don't show the image. Convert to PDF and the images show - but when you zoom, text doesn't reformat (as you'd expect)

  11. D@v3

    Free e-Book shop.

    Nice idea, shame that you have to know what you want before you go in the shop. would be much better if you could just browse the shelves and select the *free* books you want, instead of having to ask the shop keeper to go and find it for you.

    I all ready have enough books i want to read to keep me going for some time, but if i could just have a glance through what's on offer, i may find something i didnt previously know about.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Re How long before

    At least 3 years ago that I know of. They were all well organised and in many cases duplicated into rtf, html, doc, txt and lit thus giving you a choice of which to use. I now have a couple of thousand ebooks ready to read on my pda.

    Anonymous because

  13. Andraž Levstik

    @Antony Riley

    Even before the pirate bay and the web etc... people have scanned, ocred, typed, etc... books into digital formats and made them available for others to read.

    I prefer to buy the real book and would like to get the electronic form drm-free along the way. There are people that sell drm-free a lot. There are even those that offer the electronic forms free while they sell the paper variety.

    I'm actually preping my own eBook of Poetry atm to release drm-free for non-commercial distribution.

  14. Kevin Johnston

    re: How Long Before...

    A number of Publishers already offer a large number of their books as free/cheap eBooks for download. You get the real book with no more errors than the printed copy and their rationale is that it is no different from lending someone a copy of a book. If you like the book you are likely to buy more books by that author and no matter how handy it is to have them in electronic format, you certainly will not be taking your eReader (if that isn't a registered name then it's mine now) on a budget airline to some cheap hotel in a cheap resort for a beach holiday, you will take a few physical books themselves. Also, no matter how clever they get with screen technology, there is no way they will be able to produce a screen readable in all lighting conditions where you can read a real book at a price which people would be willing to pay.

    It is not a case of one format or another, both eBook and paper books can co-exist quite happily.

  15. Anonymous Coward
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    How can they justify charging more for ebooks than paperbacks? Seems they want to go down the same road as the mp3 morons and have everyone pirate everything to avoid paying the money grabbing bastards over the odds prices for an inferior product.

  16. Mage Silver badge

    Google's free titles

    I've downloaded titles from Gutenberg

    But I can't find these 500,000 free PDFs. Google's Book search is aomething else.

  17. Martin Silver badge

    It's not US only....

    You have to visit the Sony store in the US, and register. But you don't need a CC - you can just download into the eBook Library software and it works.

    But as the first commenter noted, the books are close to unreadable.

    Also, that half-million books includes things like old auction and library catalogues - not exactly what you'd call everyday reading.

    Not that impressed. There are better sources of free books.

  18. Phlogiston
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    Sony is now NOT evil?

    Just download that spiffy Sony-verified-non-rootkit proggy onto your computer and you can get free reading material......

    Like bloody hell!

    I will trust Sony the day the sun becomes a white dwarf.

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