San Diego - The e-bookstore wars heated up on Wednesday, with Sony claiming to offer the largest e-bookstore and announcing it will offer more than 1 million free books through a partnership with Google.
The announcement follows by eight days a launch by Barnes & Noble of an e-bookstore with 700,000 e-books, which Barnes & Noble said was the largest e-bookstore at the time.
Sony's alliance with Google includes 500,000 free books in the public domain that were previously announced in March. With today's announcement, Sony now offers 1 million books that are part of Google's project to digitize books. The new Google titles include such classics as Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island."
Sony's eBook Store now holds a total of more than 1.1 million books in all.
The surge of new e-books mirrors an expected surge in new e-readers by next year. Barnes & Noble recently stated it will ally with Plastic Logic, which is expected to offer a large-screen e-reader early next year. And Samsung this week entered the e-reader market in South Korea with reported plans to expand to other markets.
E-books in the U.S. will climb from $52.4 million wholesale in 2008 to $1.8 billion (in wholesale publisher revenues) in 2014, Credit Suisse forecasted. Approximately four million e-readers will be in U.S. consumer hands by the end of this year, it said.
Sony's eBook Store is compatible with its two e-book readers: the PRS-505, starting at $280, and the PRS-700, starting at $350.