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Barnes&Noble.com bringing authors out from behind the pen

The online bookseller unveils a new program featuring streaming video interviews on the site from top authors such as Armistead Maupin, Malachy McCourt and Michael Crichton.

Barnes&Noble.com unveiled a new online promotion Tuesday, featuring streaming video interviews on the site from top authors.

The series, called Behind the Words, is delivered using RealNetworks' video streaming format through BNTV, Barnes&Noble.com's Web broadcast program. The promotion airs interviews with authors and gives customers the option to buy featured books.

Produced in conjunction with independent TV and film company Rain, New York-based Barnes&Noble.com said it will post a new interview on the site each day except for on the weekends.

Analysts said while the series will allow fans to get a little closer to the author, it remains to be seen whether the promotion will translate into more sales.

"This is just an initial light step," said Idil Cakim, an analyst with Cyber Dialogue, a New York-based customer relationship management company. "It's interactive marketing."

Cakim said while the series may not directly add to Barnes&Noble.com's revenue, consumers can expect to see more of this kind of broadband offering from e-commerce companies.

"If it helps to drive their sales, we'll see more of this?It's taking advantage of the medium and adding something to what they already have," she said.

The first author in the series is Anne Rice, best known for her vampire chronicles including "Interview with the Vampire." Behind the Words also has 30 interviews in its archives, including with National Book Award Nominees Francine Prose and Alan Lightman.

Barnes&Noble.com hopes to air more than 250 interviews, featuring authors such as Armistead Maupin, Malachy McCourt and Michael Crichton.

"Barnes & Noble has always been associated with trying to connect readers to authors," said Dominic Schmitt, vice president of product development at Barnes&Noble.com. "The power of the Internet allows us to deliver a rich media experience for a person who is looking for a particular book or information about a particular author."

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