Google Inc.going to launch a new online service that will help readers buy electronic versions of books and read them on such gadgets as cell phones, laptops and possibly e-book reader devices.

The company said Google Editions marks its first effort to earn revenue from its ambitious Google Books scanning project, which attempts to make millions of printed books available online. Although the scanning program has faced complaints from authors and publishers over copyright, Google Editions will cover only books submitted and approved by the copyright holders when it launches next year.

The books bought through Google Editions will be accessible on any device that has a Web browser, including smart phones, netbooks and personal computers and laptops, putting Google in competition with Inc. and its Kindle e-book reader.

Reader can buy directly from Google or from any number of online booksellers and other retail partners using the Google Editions platform. Google will actually host the e-books and make them searchable.
Google expects the program will start with 400,000 to 600,000 books in the first half of next year.

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