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Amazon launches Kindle for the Web

Amazon introduces a beta version of Kindle for the Web, which its says will allow customers to discover new books and authors by sampling Kindle books directly through Web browsers and share them via Twitter and Facebook.

Kindle for the Web has a big social-networking component.

Hot on the heels of announcing that it will have a Kindle app for the upcoming Blackberry PlayBook tablet, Amazon today rolled out Kindle for the Web, which allows people to view and share book samples directly through their Web browsers. Amazon is also encouraging bloggers and Web site owners who are members of Amazon Associates Program to embed samples of Kindle books on their Web sites and earn referral fees from Amazon "when customers complete book purchases using the links on their Web sites."

Kindle for the Web, which has been tagged with the "beta" label, shares some similarities to Scribd, a company that has been billing itself as the YouTube for documents and has become a popular destination for viewing and sharing documents and book samples, many of them free.

Like Scribd, Amazon for the Web has a big social-networking component, as people can easily share samples on Facebook and Twitter. But Kindle for the Web is more geared to driving readers to buy the full e-books (and perhaps paper books), which reside on Amazon. Authors and publishers will undoubtedly see this as a viral marketing tool.

Amazon has a demo page up and it shows how "selected Amazon book overview pages" will have a "Read first chapter FREE" button integrated into them. Click on the button and a new browser window will open that displays the book sample. It's unclear how long the sample can be--or whether Amazon is using HTML5 for its samples (we were able to read a sample in the iPad's Safari browser, so we think it probably is HTML5)--but we'll update this post as soon we get word.

The sample opens in a separate browser window; no software installation required. Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET