LONDON Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury BMY.L said on Monday it had begun working with digital book company LibreDigital to let readers search and preview book content via the Web.
The publisher said its "Look Inside" online service mirrors the experience of reading a printed book and would help booksellers promote titles on their own Web sites without jeopardising an author's copyright.
The new service has been launched on the Web sites of various Bloomsbury divisions and would be available for booksellers in the coming months, the two companies said.
Control of copyrighted books has become a controversial topic following Google Inc.'s (GOOG.O) move to scan collections from the world's libraries. That plan has run into opposition from authors and publishers' groups worried that consumers will stop buying printed works.
At the same time, publishers have been working to digitise their own books.
Bloomsbury said it saw digitisation as an opportunity rather than a threat when it unveiled its annual results on April 3.
As part of its push into digital markets, the company has invested in a controlling interest in a San Francisco-based Web start-up. It is working on securing further third-party funding to help get the business launched around the end of 2007.
"While YouTube, MySpace NSWa.N and Bebo have grabbed the digital headlines and created the definitive music and video online community space, no one has yet done the same for books," Bloomsbury said at the time of its full-year results.
LibreDigital is the London-based European unit of NewsStand, a privately owned company based in Austin, Texas, that digitises and distributes books online.
Shares in Bloomsbury were the best performing media stock in London on Monday, ending the day up 4.3 percent at 213 pence.