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October 4, 1995
Amazon.com, the business and domain name of the most voluminous new retailer on the Internet, has thrown open its virtual doors to offer the largest collection of books in the world to anyone with World Wide Web access. The Seattle-based company currently offers more than one million different titles, 40 times more than typical mall bookstores, and more than 5 times as many as the country's largest book superstores. The retailer can be found at http://www.amazon.com/.
At a time when pundits are questioning the advantages of shopping online, Amazon.com offers consumers a shopping experience that would be impossible without the Internet. A physical bookstore as big as Amazon.com is economically impossible because no single metropolitan area is large enough to support such a mammoth store. Were Amazon.com to print a catalog of all of its titles, it would be the size of 7 New York City phone books.
Browsers on the World Wide Web have been quick to recognize Amazon.com's unique value. In just its first four weeks of operation, the company shipped books to customers in all 50 states and more than 45 countries.
From science fiction to cooking to literary fiction and the latest computer and technical publications, Amazon.com strives to offer every book in print. Amazon.com discounts all but the most obscure titles 10-40 percent from the list price. "Our motto is 'If it's in print, it's in stock,'" Amazon.com President Jeff Bezos says.
A powerful, yet easy-to-use search engine makes it possible for customers to find titles after a few minutes of searching, without ever leaving their desks. Instead of hours chasing down phone numbers and driving all over town to specialty bookstores, customers order online and books are delivered directly to their doors via UPS or Airborne Express.
The company also offers free subscription to its "Eyes & Editors" personal notification service, which enables customers to register their interests in authors, subject categories, or particular titles. Whenever a new book of interest is published, Amazon.com automatically sends the customer an e-mail message to notify him or her of the book's availability.
In addition, Amazon.com allows readers to share their thoughts on particular books and exchange ideas with other readers around the world on its users' reviews page.
Amazon.com is the brainchild of Wall Street wunderkind Jeff Bezos. "We are able to offer more items for sale than any retailer in history, thanks entirely to the Internet," he says. "If you're a reader and shopping from your keyboard, and hundreds of thousands of discounted items appeal to you, then we might interest you."
World Wide Web surfers and administrators have greeted the presence of Amazon.com with applause. Netscape and Yahoo have each included Amazon.com in their "What's New" and "What's Cool" lists, effectively trumpeting its arrival to any user who clicks the button to see the list.
Postings from individual users have ranged from comments on the impressive depth and breadth of Amazon.com's inventory to a light-hearted "I gotta stay away from there or I'll go broke!"
Amazon.com operates from headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The company
maintains a staff of programmers, editors, executives and all-around book
lovers. The company can be reached on the Web at http://www.amazon.com/
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