Book publisher Random House, part of German media powerhouse Bertelsmann AG, has unveiled a unit that will use digital formats such as e-books and print on demand.
The publisher plans to release its first line of books - including business, technology and fiction titles - early next year.
The spin-off, called AtRandom, will sell books online in digital form or in single copies printed on demand and available at bookstores. The books will not be shipped to retail outlets.
One of the highlights is an original collection of short fiction about online relationships. The book, entitled Men Seeking Women, will feature contributions by 10 authors including Po Bronson, Richard Dooling and Bruce Sterling.
Also among the authors is psychologist Richard DeGrandpre, who examines how digital life is changing the way people think, and Gary Rivlin, who describes the ways of Silicon Valley's greatest so-called angel investor.
Another Random House project, the Modern Library, will this autumn issue 100 classic works electronically including James Joyce's Ulysses and Marchel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.
Jonathan Karp, publisher of AtRandom, said: "We see the business going in this direction and we want to establish a beachhead."
The bookselling industry is becoming increasingly computerised as publishers begin to digitise their catalogues, and brick and mortar stores establish websites. Authors such as bestselling horror writer Stephen King has sold books exclusively through the internet. King recently posted the opening instalment of The Plant on his website for sale online.
Time Warner has also established a digital service called iPublish.com, and Random House already owns a percentage of another electronic publisher, Xlibris.
Ann Godoff, head of the Random House Trade Group, which will oversee the new publishing programme, said: "While technology continues to evolve, the editorial mission of Random House remains the same: to publish the best, widely and with excellence."
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