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Old 03-19-2009, 01:00 AM   #1
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Post Sony Partners With Google To Bring More Than 500,000 Books To The Reader

Google Book Search and Sony PRS Readers, A Voluminous Combination



Sony and Google announced today the launch of a partnership to bring upwards of 500,000 public domain texts from Google's Book Search collections to Sony's line of electronic Readers at no cost to the user.

This service went live at 9 PM, PST (a bit earlier, actually) today, March 18th. It's accessible through the Sony eBook Library software, on the main eBook Store page, over to the right about halfway down, by way of a link reading "Unearth a Classic."

The books are searchable through a brand new interface by the folks at Google. The interface looks like it includes some downright nifty features to refine the search, including a categorized browsing approach and an "Advanced Search" feature, which presumably somewhat resembles the same named feature on Google's flagship search engine.

The advantages of familiarity for Google users would seem obvious, but there are a couple of extra goodies that seem be there from the preview screen shots. The search results appear to include a synopsis of information about the book, including cover pictures, and allow for downloading or previewing directly from those results.

It's important to note that all of these texts are in the ePub format, making this not only the first deployment of ePub format through Sony's eBook Store, but also most likely the single largest block deployment of ePub to date. Those interested can find fairly detailed information on how Google went about creating these texts as ePub files on Google's blog post on the matter. The post discusses the deployment of Google's mobile version of their Google Books service, but the details clearly apply to this newest endeavor.

This partnership further supports Sony's repeated assertions of great interest in keeping the PRS line open to easily supporting as much content as they can arrange.
Quote:
“We have focused our efforts on offering an open platform and making it easy to find as much content as possible – from our store or others – whether that content is purchased, borrowed or free,” 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.”
One exciting and less obvious benefit of this partnership is the great quantity of more obscure texts that it will include. Google Book Search has performed a yeoman's task in making available to everyone texts which survive in but a few hard copies.
Quote:
For example, literature lovers can find and read The Letters of Jane Austen in addition to “Sense and Sensibility” and “Emma.” Also included are a number of titles in French, German, Italian, Spanish and other languages.
The ready availability of such texts on Google Books has already proven a boon to literary scholars, the increase in readability by making them so easily available to a device which is handier than the average computer should prove yet another.

Quote:
“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 [at Google Book Search, presumably]. “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.”
It will be very interesting to see what effect this has on the balance of power (such as it is) in the e-book world.



The full press release should appear on this page shortly.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:04 AM   #2
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But it's still a bunch of Public Domain books. Until Sony can up their contemporary content, I'm not sure the current balance of power is in jeopardy. Great for schools though.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:25 AM   #3
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The files are DRM free, and imported into calibre just fine. No TOC, but you can't have everything.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:31 AM   #4
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The site looks great, a major improvement from the Sony of a year or so ago. It is easy to get around in and very fast.

I did download a book (yes, I know that I have a PRS-500) and view it in the Sony software. It seemed like standard text/RTF formatting. Not bad, nothing special except that there were no margins of wasted white space as I have found on so many Sony provided books. On the sample I viewed, I did not find any errors including some I remember fixing from the same text in a Project Gutenberg file. While better than the Sony formatted books offered by Manybooks.net, it is still far short of the quality offered by Feedbooks and our own MobileRead download book section. However, the selection offered by Sony/Google is far larger than that offered by Feedbooks and MobileRead.

Since I was on a roll I tried to load the file to my Reader. I put the file (along with some regular files for the Reader) on a Memory Stick, put the Memory Stick in the Reader, and the file did not show up in the index.

This, more than the better screen, may make me consider changing to the 505 even though I consider the ergonomics of the 500 to be superior to the 505.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:36 AM   #5
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Why don't you use calibre to convert epub to lrf?
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RWood View Post
Since I was on a roll I tried to load the file to my Reader. I put the file (along with some regular files for the Reader) on a Memory Stick, put the Memory Stick in the Reader, and the file did not show up in the index.
Did you put the ePub file on the Memory Stick? or an .LRF file you created from the ePub?

By the way, I also downloaded a book -- one I hadn't heard of before, The Facetious Nights of Straparola. Before the title page, I found text explaining the terms and conditions, including this:
Quote:
Google Book Search has digitized millions of physical books and made them
available online at http://books.google.com

The digitization at the most basic level is based on page images of the physical books. To make this book available as an ePub formated file we have
taken those page images and extracted the text using Optical Character Recognition (or OCR for short) technology. The extraction of text from page images is a difficult engineering task. Smudges on the physical books' pages, fancy fonts, old fonts, torn pages, etc. can all lead to errors in the extracted text. Imperfect OCR is only the first challenge in the ultimate goal of moving from collections of page images to extracted-text based books. Our computer algorithms also have to automatically determine the structure of the book (what are the headers and footers, where images are placed, whether text is verse or prose, and so forth)

Getting this right allows us to render the book in a way that follows the format of the original book.

Despite our best efforts you may see spelling mistakes, garbage characters, extraneous images, or missing pages in this book. Based on our estimates, these errors should not prevent you from enjoying the content of the book. The technical challenges of automatically constructing a perfect book are daunting, but we continue to make enhancements to our OCR and book structure extraction technologies.
For the most part, the OCR and presentation is quite good. But when it fails, it fails spectacularly!
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
But it's still a bunch of Public Domain books.
Well, since Google now probably has the largest library of digitized PD books and which probably dwarfs PG, I don't think that's anything to sneeze at. If Google and Sony do it right, then I actually think this is a big deal, especially since in the future Google will also be selling ebooks which are not in the public domain. The big problem is that the formatting of the Google ebooks is terrible and chock full of errors! That is also a big deal.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:45 AM   #8
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If Google and Sony do it right, then I actually think this is a big deal, especially since in the future Google will also be selling ebooks which are not in the public domain.
That *will* be a big deal if Google gets into books which are not in the public domain (as I pretty much said in my post). I just don't believe PD books are a big draw for the average reader. I have no evidence to back this, just my feeling (opinion).
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:47 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
That *will* be a big deal if Google gets into books which are not in the public domain (as I pretty much said in my post). I just don't believe PD books are a big draw for the average reader. I have no evidence to back this, just my feeling (opinion).
Okay, point well taken.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
That *will* be a big deal if Google gets into books which are not in the public domain (as I pretty much said in my post).
I seem to recall that Google has scanned rather a lot of non-PD material as well ....
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:54 AM   #11
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I don't see this changing the equation between the two big players. Amazon's biggest strength has always been the size of its store, and this does nothing to change that. Is it nice? Sure. Is it a significant draw to prospective buyers? I wouldn't think so.
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:11 AM   #12
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Who cares about the "Horse Race"? I think this a big step forward for ebooks and ebook readers. Full stop.

This is another move towards fulfilling the promise of these devices -- easy, cheap (or free) access to copious amounts of quality material that can be stored and read on a small device that is easy to read with a battery life measured in weeks.
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:14 AM   #13
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Wow!! That is really great news!

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/stor...%7D&dist=msr_4
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:24 AM   #14
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Who cares about the "Horse Race"? I think this a big step forward for ebooks and ebook readers. Full stop.

This is another move towards fulfilling the promise of these devices -- easy, cheap (or free) access to copious amounts of quality material that can be stored and read on a small device that is easy to read with a battery life measured in weeks.
Considering there's been lots of noise already about how HUGE this is for Sony and the HUGE number of books this brings to the Sony Reader, apparently people find the numbers (The Horse Race) of interest.
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:27 AM   #15
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I went back and downloaded more of the new Sony/Google offerings. They were as bad as Elsi observed. (Luck of the draw, the one text I checked was great.)

My first experiment was to load an ePub on the Memory Stick. My 500 would not even display it as a title in the index. I then converted it to an LRF in Calibre. This worked fine on the 500.

My first choice for books for my 500 will stay the MobileRead download section. After that I will look to Project Gutenberg for a convertible text (that will be subsequently posted at MobileRead), and then to the Sony/Google site.
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