Google will go head-to-head with Amazon and Apple this year when it launches an ebook service.

The internet giant has scanned more than 12 million books onto its database and will sell copies as downloads that customers store on their e-readers.

The move will pit it against Amazon’s Kindle Store and Apple’s iBook Store.

The internet is expected to transform the books market as it did with music. While the UK ebooks market is stil in its infancy, in the US sales of ebooks have almost hit the £1bn mark.

Google’s service will launch this summer in the US, although a date for a European service had not yet been revealed.

Google, which said it has been working on the idea since 2006 but has been waiting for technology to advance, said the ebooks will work across multiple devices.