Leading online bookseller Amazon.com Inc. on Monday filed to sell 2.5 million common shares, a 10.9% stake, in an initial public offering.
The Seattle-based company, which is selling all the shares in the offering, plans to raise $29.4 million after expenses if the shares sell for $13 each, according to the S-1 registration statement it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Amazon.com was founded in July 1995 to be "Earth's Biggest Bookstore." Free from the limitations of shelf space, the company now carries more than 2.5 million titles, "including most of the estimated 1.5 million English-language books believed to be in print," according to the filing.
Although Amazon.com led the way in establishing a major retailing presence on the Web, "there aren't a lot of barriers to entrance," said Joan L. Bogucki of Needham & Co.
"This business is going to come down to prices, and it's going to come down to speed" of delivery, Bogucki said.
Amazon.com's virtual bookstore on the World Wide Web will soon face competition from industry giants joining the Internet marketplace.
Barnes & Noble Inc., the world's largest bookseller, signed an agreement Jan. 28 to offer its 1-million-plus titles through America Online Inc. and plans to set up shop on the Web as well.
The company's SEC filing listed no specific plan for how it will use the proceeds from the sale.
An Amazon.com spokeswoman declined to comment further on the offering.
Jeffrey P. Bezos, the company founder, chief executive, chairman and president, will remain the firm's top shareholder after the offering with a 42% stake. Members of his family will control an additional 10%. Bezos, 33, formerly was an executive with D.E. Shaw & Co. and Bankers Trust Co.
The filing listed only one senior executive or director with prior experience selling books, former Barnes & Noble executive Scott E. Lipsky, now Amazon.com's vice president of business expansion.
Amazon.com reported a net loss of $2.3 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 1996. For all of 1996 the company lost $5.8 million, compared with a net loss of $303,000 the year before.
The company's sales exceeded $15.7 million in 1996, compared with $511,000 in sales the year before. Sales for the quarter ended Dec. 31 were $8.5 million, according to the filing.
Deutsche Morgan Grenfell will underwrite the sale of Amazon.com shares, along with Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. and Hambrecht & Quist. Amazon.com plans to have the shares trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol AMZN, the filing said.