- Google is expanding its role in the publishing world from a search engine for books to a distributor making entire books available to read online.
The company launched a new program Friday that allows traditional book publishers in the United States and Britain to sell and set the price for access to full copies of their books, Google spokeswoman Megan Lamb said Monday. Consumers who purchase the access cannot save copies of the books or individual pages to their computers and can view them only through a Web browser.
"We are collaborating with publishers -- in response to demand from them -- to develop a suite of online tools that will enable publishers to experiment with new and innovative ways to generate more book revenue,'' Lamb said in an e-mail.
The new program is open only to U.S. and U.K. publishers at this point.
Several points remained unclear: whether Google would get a cut of the price paid for access to a book; whether customers who purchase access to books see advertising while they read the books; and whether independent authors will also one day sell full access to their books through the service.
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