Half a million books are to be made available for free by Google on Sony's e-book reading device, according to the Associated Press.
This is the first time Google will have made it's vast collection of scanned public-domain books available to an e-book reader, a move which sees the Sony Reader's available book collection expand to about 600,000 books - far more than the 245,000 available on Amazon's Kindle.
The scanned books, which are not protected by copyright, were all published prior to 1923 and includes classic fiction novels from the likes of Charles Dickens as well as non-fiction work. All of the books are already available to download for free in the PDF format, however Google will provide the books to the Sony Reader in the EPUB format, which works much better on e-book readers. Amazon's Kindle uses its own format, although unencrypted EPUB files can be converted to the Kindle's file format through PC software.
Google spokeswoman Jennie Johnson said, "Really our vision is: any book, anywhere, anytime and on any device. We want to partner with anybody who shares our vision of making them more accessible."
Earlier this month Amazon released a free Kindle application for the iPhone and found itself in hot water over the Kindle 2's new text-to-speech feature.
While the Kindle has a wireless connection to its e-book store, users of the Sony Reader who wish to download the books must first download them from Sony's website to a computer, before copying them across to their Sony Reader.