Readers can judge books by looking inside their covers, HarperCollins Publishers announced on Thursday, with the launch of a new website service allowing them to sample book content online.
The News Corporation unit calls its service "Browse Inside", which will let potential book buyers read a few pages of their titles over the Internet to decide if they like the work or not before purchasing it.
The first 10 featured authors will include Michael Crichton, Paulo Coelho and Isabel Allende. Within one year, 10 more will be added, the publisher said.
The programme allows users to read six pages of Allende's novel "Zorro", while just four pages of the same book are offered at leading Internet retailer Amazon.com's similar "Search Inside" feature.
"We want to reach consumers wherever they are, however they wish to experience our authors and their words," said Jane Friedman, president of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide.
The battle to offer such electronically stored texts intensified after Google announced that it would offer over the web as many books as it could, only scaling back its ambitions after publishers and writers complained.
"HarperCollins is taking a leadership role on the digital front to fulfill consumer and marketplace demands while, first and foremost, protecting our authors' copyrights," Friedman said.