Google plans to give publishers a way to sell online digital versions of their books through a partner programme that currently allows publishers to submit books for company's search engine results.

The move, due ot be introduced by the end of 2009, will put the internet company in direct competition with Amazon.com. It's also part of a Google strategy to promote an open platform for reading and accessing books.

The Google statement comes a day after The New York Times reported that Google was planning to sell e-books online.

In a move that seems to target Amazon.com's Kindle business, Google said that it wants to build and support a "digital book ecosystem" to allow its partner publishers to make their books available for purchase from any web-enabled device, whether it is a PC, a smart phone, a netbook or a dedicated reading device, the company said.

"Eventually, we hope to extend this functionality to retailers who embed Google Previews on their website," Google said of its contraversial book service.

E-books downloaded from Amazon.com's Kindle Store can only currently be read by its own reader Kindle, and Apple's iPhone and iPod touch running Kindle software.

Competitor Amazon.com introduced a new version of its Kindle reader last month. The new Kindle DX, with a bigger screen, is designed to better present newspaper and magazine content than earlier versions. The online retailer also  launched a Kindle Store optimised for the Safari web browser on the iPhone. The store has 280,000 e-books for sale.