Google, the world's largest Internet search engine company, is to start an on-line book search service in China, accelerating fierce competition with Baidu, its biggest Chinese rival, the Xinhua-run Shanghai Securities News reported Wednesday.
Google had signed cooperation agreements with four publishing houses in China, including the Tsinghua University Press and the Children's Publishing House, the newspaper said.
The U.S.-based company will make their books available on-line, provide search links and grant free access to a segment of each work, but readers would have to pay to read the full content, said Kai-fu Lee, vice president of Google.
Baidu, which listed in August 2005 on the U.S. Nasdaq exchange, has signed agreements with prestigious libraries rather than publishing houses in order to establish its on-line book search service.
Baidu has agreements with Peking University Library and the Library of Chinese Academy of Sciences, giving it access to 15 million on-line books, the world's largest on-line collection of Chinese books, the newspaper reported.
On-line book searches were unlikely to see immediate profits, but in the long run, the service would attract more clients, said Chen Haiying, an Internet analyst.
Google has claimed that it will permit publishing houses to sell books through search service in the future, and it will take a 30 percent commission from the profit.
Google also plans to take part in production of on-line publications, adding pictures and links, the newspaper said.