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Online Price War

May 18, 1999|Associated Press

A price war among the three biggest online booksellers broke out Monday when Amazon.com announced 50% off all New York Times best-sellers, and Barnesandnoble.com and Borders.com immediately matched the discount. The deep discounts will mean the companies will make little or no profit on the books, but the offer could stimulate sales of other more lucrative products as customers browse through the Web sites. All three companies have traditionally offered best-selling books at discounts from 20% to 40% below list price. The new offer will apply to both hardcover and paperback titles on the New York Times bestseller lists, which are updated weekly with at least 68 titles. The big chains may be able to accept losses on the bestsellers because those books represent a relatively small portion of their online sales, while some smaller traditional booksellers rely more on the big-name books.

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