The announcement last week that Sony and Google had reached an agreement through which 500,000 public domain books scanned by the Google Books project will be made available to users of the Sony Reader for free through the Sony eBook store marks the first time books from the Google Books project have been made available on a portable reading device not connected to the Internet—but it may not be the last. Google spokesperson Jennie Johnson said Google would welcome other partnerships. “We really don't do exclusive things, especially when it comes to content,” she said. While no other deals with content providers or hardware makers—like Amazon—have yet been announced, Johnson noted, “We're open to anyone who shares our goals for making books more available on more devices for more people.”
Google recently announced it had optimized 1.5 million of its public domain books for use on a mobile Web app (meaning the text was digitized from page scans). Basically, the files available through Sony are 500,000 of the same ones optimized for Google's Web app, with an ePub wrapper around them.
For Sony, the deal is likely to draw traffic to the Sony eBook store, and, perhaps, sell more e-books and Readers. But Steve Haber, president of Sony's Digital Reading Business Division, said that's not why the company is doing it. “The overall plan here, and the overall thinking, is to continue with our open platform, to allow our Reader users to have access to content,” said Haber. “Our intention is not to lock people into one store, one device.”