There are more reasons than ever to ditch the paperbacks and commit to electronic book readers, commonly referred to as e-readers. Just as news was cooling down about the newly slimmed-down and powered-up Amazon Kindle 2.0, Google made an announcement that may have profound impact on the e-reader marketplace. In a move to boost usability on its public domain book database, Google will make over half a million books currently viewable on its Book Search site available to Sony's Reader Digital Book. Not only do the two Sony models cost less than the Amazon e-book, the PRS-505 (picture right) at $299 and the PRS-700BC at $349, but they will basically come with an unexhaustible supply of reading material. This deal is much more alluring of an offer than the Fujitsu Flepia , another backlight-less reader with a color screen and a $1000-plus pricetag.
There are, of course, trade-offs. The huge amount of published material that is available on Google Books for free and in entirety are out-of-copyright volumes published before 1923, or if the publisher or author has requested that the book be made fully viewable. This limits the scope of what Sony Reader users can actually access.
Significantly, the cheaper 505 model is not compatible with books from Google at the time of this writing. So, in order to take advantage of this new partnership, the only option is the 700 model, just ten dollars cheaper than the Kindle, but without Whispernet, Amazon's wireless direct download service. Instead of browsing and downloading over the Sprint network as with the Kindle, the Sony models rely on a computer connection via USB port.
Still, depending on personal tastes, the Google/Sony configuration could be an amazing deal. With hundreds of thousands of old classic literature, non-fiction and poetry titles, the rewards are many. But for recent publications enthusiasts and best-seller list loyalists, the Kindle is still in a privileged position.