More news from the e-book world

Sony has made a deal with Google to provide more than a half million books for free on its e-book, making its library larger than Amazon’s Kindle. Wired reports that the deal, along with a price drop (to $350)  is a direct jab at Amazon.

“We have focused our efforts on offering an open platform and making it easy to find as much content as possible,” said Steve Haber, president of the Digital Reading Business Division at Sony Electronics. “Working with Google, we can offer book lovers another avenue for free books while still providing a seamless experience from our store.”

And in a jab at Amazon, Google is also quick to emphasize the importance this openness in the deal.

“We founded Google Book Search on the premise that anyone, anywhere, anytime should have the tools to explore the great works of history and culture — and not just when they happen to be at a computer,” said Adam Smith, product management director in a press release. “We believe in an open platform for accessing and reading books, and we’re excited to partner with Sony to help bring these public domain books to more people.”

Many in the publishing industry are pushing for open formats, such as the International Digital Publishing Forum’s ePub to become a universal standard in the industry. Meanwhile, the Kindle only supports its proprietary mobipocket-based .azw format, and unprotected .mobi books.

In other news, Random House, Simon & Schuster and several other publishers announced a partnership with Scribd to release a number of best sellers as free e-books — a major marketing push to harness the long tail of a literate social network that boasts some 50 million loyalists.

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