The New York Times is running a story about a new development at Amazon – they plan to assemble “a searchable online archive with the texts of tens of thousands of books of nonfiction.” Users would only be able to read a certain portion of the text from any one book, but it sounds promising nonetheless. The Times article suggests that this is part of a larger strategy to compete with Google and Yahoo by making Amazon an authoritative source of information on everything book-related.

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Amazon appears to be betting heavily on the idea. At a time when Amazon is squeezing hard to lower its costs everywhere else, the company is paying to enter thousands of texts into its searchable database, the publishers said. Although there are many works already in digital format, others would have to be scanned at a cost of more than $200 a book, executives in the industry said. It is unclear how many books Amazon is paying to scan.