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Amazon Selling Books by the Page

"Books will be available for full indexing, search and display," Random House said. "No downloading, printing or copying will be permitted."

A "publisher-determined free sample" of page views of as much as 5% of a book's length will be permitted, Random House said. Random House will receive 4 cents per page from vendors, who will determine pricing beyond the initial part of the book.

No timetable has been set for Random House's initiative, said Stuart Applebaum, a company spokesman.

Random House may participate in the Amazon program "if we can come to terms," he said, adding that the two companies had a good relationship.

Other publishers likely will follow Random House's lead, said Jim Milliot, business and news editor at Publishers Weekly, a trade publication.

"It's broad enough to allow a lot of flexibility," he said.

The announcement from Amazon and Random House comes the same day that Google (GOOG) began allowing people to search through out-of-print books and other materials from some of the top libraries in the country through its controversial Google Print book digitization initiative.

People can now search on print.google.com through books on the Civil War, government documents and writings by well-known authors such as Henry James. The books come from the collections of the New York Public Library, Harvard University, the University of Michigan and Stanford University. Readers can also peruse more obscure fare such as 1886's "Memoirs of Arthur Hamilton: B.A. of Trinity College, Cambridge, Exacted from his Letters" by Arthur Christopher Benson or "Studies in German Literature: Sundermann: Hauptmann; Woman Writers of the Nineteenth Century" by Otto Heller, from 1905.

"Our goal is to make these public domain books and the knowledge within them accessible to the world," said Susan Wojcicki, Google's president of product management, in a statement. "Any researcher or student, whether they're in New York or New Delhi can now research and learn from these books that were only available in the library."

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