Rather than putting out content in e-book form, Google takes it a step further as it scans actual book pages for online viewing.
According to the Google’s Official Blog:
The world’s libraries are a tremendous source of knowledge, much of which has never been available online. One of our goals for Google Print is to change that, and today we’ve taken an exciting step toward meeting it: making available a number of public domain books that were never subject to copyright or whose copyright has expired. We can show every page because these books are in the public domain. xxx
Of course, those not in public domain has to be acquired, for viewing on a limited or unlimited basis. Groups representing authors and publishers have actually sued Google for copyright infringement, according this BBC news article.
It works by just doing a search on the Google Print homepage. When it finds a book whose content contains a match for your search terms, it will link to it in your search results. Click a book title and you’ll see the page of the book that has your search terms, along with other information about the book and “Buy this Book” links to online bookstores (that you can view the entirety of public domain books or, for books under copyright, just a few pages or in some cases, only the title’s bibliographic data and brief snippets). You can also search for more information within that specific book and find nearby libraries that have it. (Paraphrased from this About Google Print link.)
Initial participating libraries are those of the University of Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and the New York Public Library.
Give it a try. I know I will.