NEW YORK The dusty world of book publishing has taken a step into cyberspace as Random House and HarperCollins letting customers browse books online.
Random House, whose writers include Danielle Steel and Norman Mailer, said on Tuesday it will let consumers search and browse through more than 5,000 of its titles on the Internet through a new service called Insight.
Random House is also introducing a tool allowing users to add material from titles to personal pages on social networks such as MySpace or to a retailer's Web site. Random House is a unit of German media giant Bertelsmann AG.
HarperCollins Publishers, whose authors include Michael Crichton, on Monday said it was introducing a browse function that lets consumers embed pages of books onto networking sites such as MySpace. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp owns HarperCollins and MySpace.
Random House said the two companies were the only major publishers offering such services so far.
Both companies have come late to online book searches. Retailer Amazon.com Inc. has allowed customers to look at book pages since 2003 and Web search company Google Inc has done so since 2005.
Book publishers are to trying to update their businesses as more young readers consume media via the Web, a trend that already has affected the music, movie and newspaper industries.