(AP) -- Some of technology's best-known companies are betting there's pent-up demand for on-demand books.
Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's top seller of personal computers and printers, is teaming up with online retailer Amazon.com Inc. to challenge Internet search leader Google Inc. in the quirky new market of re-creating digital books as paperbacks.
The concept represents a different type of book recycling, as digital copies created from print get a second life as paperbacks.
Publishing a single copy of a digital book usually can be done in a few minutes, allowing consumers to order a paperback version of a title that's out-of-print or only available in one or two libraries in the world.
The HP program announced Wednesday offers to publish paperbacks of about 500,000 digital books scanned from the University of Michigan's library. The books are all considered to be part of the public domain because they no longer protected under copyright. The paperback copies can be ordered through Amazon.com and a few other retailers.
Ironically, Google created most of the digital copies in the University of Michigan's collection.
Google embraced the concept of on-demand book publishing in a partnership launched last month. The deal allows a small company called On Demand Books to sell paperback versions of about 2 million digital books that Google has scanned into its index during the past five years.
As in HP's case, all of the Google books available for on-demand publishing aren't under copyright.
The recommended retail price for a paperback copy of a book in Google's digital library is $8. HP estimates a 250-page paperback printed on its machines will cost about $15.
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