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Google hangs out bookselling shingle

Google Inc. is making the leap from digital librarian to merchant in a challenge to Amazon.com Inc. and its Kindle electronic reader.

Google Inc. is making the leap from digital librarian to merchant in a challenge to Amazon.com Inc. and its Kindle electronic reader.

The long-awaited Internet book store, which opened yesterday in the U.S., draws upon a portion of the 15 million printed books that Google has scanned into its computers during the past six years.

About 4,000 publishers, including Simon & Schuster Inc., Random House Inc. and Penguin Group, are also allowing Google to carry many of their recently released books in the new store.

Those publishing deals will ensure that most of the current bestsellers are among the 3 million e-books initially available in Google’s store, said Amanda Edmonds, who oversaw the company’s partnerships.

Millions more out-of-print titles will appear in Google’s store, called eBooks, if the company can gain federal court approval of a proposed class-action settlement with U.S. publishers and authors.

Books bought from Google’s store can be read on any machine with a web browser. There are also free applications that can be installed on Apple Inc.’s iPad and iPhone, as well as other devices powered by Google’s own mobile operating system, Android.

 
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