Internet search engine Google has begun publishing the opening chapters of books and book reviews as part of "an experiment", according to a report.
Google celebrated its fifth birthday in September
It is working with publishers to provide indexed versions of texts for web surfers, The New York Times said.
US-based Google reportedly described the project - known as Google Print - as a test version and said it was not yet generating any revenue.
Online retailer Amazon.com offers a similar facility with 120,000 books.
"Google Print is consistent with what we've been doing since Google first started," said Susan Wojcicki, the company's director of product management.
"We believe one of the ways we can offer a better experience for our users is to crawl a richer set of information. Reaching out to publishers is just another way we are trying to improve our user experience."
Amazon customers can read excerpts from 120,000 books
Google is still assessing how the service might generate income.
The site gave details of the project on Wednesday after users began noticing the content in their search results.
When books are found during a search, the information is preceded by the words "Book Beta".
While the service does not index or provide the full text of books, the company said it was talking about the idea of hosting electronic texts for publishers.
In October, Amazon.com began a service called Search Inside the Book which allows customers to search and preview content.
This led to speculation that Amazon might compete with Google as a general search provider.
But Google said Amazon was a partner in its new project, and its results page directed users to the Amazon