"Both the Kindle and the nook seem like very similar devices to me. My initial reluctance to both of them vs. the Sony was the idea that I could have access to tons of the classics at the 'free' price point with the Sony.'
As others have mentioned, you can get free books from many places. The "free" books that Sony or B&N offer are (mostly) all out of copyright books that are readily available elsewhere.
"I would like wifi, 3g is not necessary."
If all you want to do is read books and you don't want any "advanced" features like touch-screen, I don't exactly understand why wifi would be important. You can buy from any online bookstore or download from free sites (Gutenberg/Baen/Manybooks/etc) with your computer and sideload them to the e-reader via USB.
I suggest you check out the Astak readers. Basic, inexpensive (a bit over $200 US), read a ton of formats, come standard with cover & earbuds, and seem to have a very loyal user base. Oh, and Calibre supports Astak readers so you can still use it, too.