Microsoft has launched a book search service that it hopes will beat Google's similar service.

Live Search Books , available in a beta version, is a service that indexes and makes full book texts searchable. Microsoft said 'tens of thousands' of books are available to search, but would not confirm a more exact number.

Like Google Book Search , the service has seen Microsoft team up with libraries, universities and publishers to offer content.

Microsoft's Live Search Books will feature scanned books from collections of the University of California , University of Toronto , and the British Library , said Danielle Tiedt, a Live Search general manager.

Microsoft is also scanning books from Cornell University 's library and has just struck a partnership with the New York Public Library and the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine .

Copyrighted works

Microsoft has chosen to only feature books still in copyright if the copyright owner gives their permission. Google has previously been sued over copyright infringement since it scanned copyrighted books without seeking permission before publishing the excerpts on its Book Search.

In their defence, Google has argued that it is protected by the fair use principle, as it only displays short snippets of text from copyrighted books.

Microsoft said it is in discussions with many publishers to draw up agreements to add copyrighted books to the service. Tiedt said copyrighted books are likely to be added to the service early next year.

Microsoft will also integrate its book index into its general web search service, so that book results will be included in the list of search results for general web searches.

Live Search Books will be available on Microsoft's main Live.com site or directly here . Initially, it will include English-language books only and will be hosted in the US only. Danielle Tiedt said Microsoft plans to roll out international editions of the service in the future. Anna Lagerkvist