Google officially launched on Wednesday a service for book publishers that the company began testing late last year.
Google Print is now open to publishers "of all sizes" that are interested in having Google scan and index their books to make the content searchable through the company's search engine, a Google spokesman said.
Publishers can sign up at https://print.google.com/publisher/. At no charge, Google will scan and index books it receives for this program.
At some unspecified time this week, Google searches will begin returning Google Print results. Clicking on a Google Print result will take the user to a page with more information about the book and allow browsing of some book pages. The Google Print page will also have a link that takes users interested in buying the book to third-party online bookstores.
Publishers also stand to generate revenue through contextually relevant ads that accompany their Google Print results. Google will pay book publishers whenever a user clicks on these ads, which are sold by Google.
Google also provides an account-management online service for publishers participating in Google Print where they can view their ad earnings.
For now, the program is limited to books in English, but support for other languages will be added "in the coming months," according to the e-mail.
Because the Web traditionally has been such a strong sales channel for books, this program is likely to succeed, an analyst said.
"This is certainly a good area for Google to focus on. By increasing its search volume for books and literature, Google becomes more useful to consumers and attracts ads from online booksellers," said Niki Scevak, a Jupiter Research analyst.
Google Print also puts Google on a more equal footing with online retail colossus Amazon.com Inc., which has a feature on its Web site that lets users search books and view pages from them, Scevak said. Of course, this functionality leads the two vendors toward different revenue streams: online advertising for Google and actual book sales for Amazon, he said.