By BRAD STONE writing in The New York Times, March 18, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO — Aiming to outdo Amazon.com and recapture the crown for the most digital titles in an e-book library, Sony is announcing Thursday a deal with Google to make a half million copyright-free books available for its Reader device, a rival to the Amazon Kindle.
Since 2004, Google has scanned about seven million books from major university and research library collections. For now, however, Google can make full digital copies available only of books whose copyrights have expired.
The books available to Reader owners were written before 1923 and include classics like “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” by Mark Twain, and “The Awakening,” by Kate Chopin, as well as harder-to-find titles like “The Letters of Jane Austen.”
The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal.
Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, has said that works in the public domain, like those Google is making available to Sony, are easy to get since there are no copyrights attached.