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Booksellers enjoy verbal jousting

Barnes & Noble and rival Amazon.com step out of the bookseller battle and enter the war of words.

The battle of the booksellers, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, has become a war of words as well.

In response to Barnes & Noble's $600 million planned buyout of Ingram Book Group today, Amazon.com stated: "The combination...undoubtedly will raise industry-wide concerns." A quote from the company's chief executive Jeff Bezos also read: "To our customers: Worry not...Goliath is always in range of a good slingshot."

Then Barnes & Noble shot back with a "verbal harpoon" of its own: "Barnes & Noble is amused to read Jeff Bezos's quote. Well, Mr. Bezos, what with a market capitalization of some $6 billion and more than 4 million customers, we suppose you know a Goliath when you see one...Might we suggest that slingshots and pot shots not be part of your arsenal."

But Amazon.com wanted to get in the last word. It drew up a one-word response to be issued on PR Newswire, an electronic distribution outlet for the media and analysts, that read simply: "Oh."

"We wanted to respond in a good-natured way," an Amazon.com spokesman said, adding that the cost to put out the statement was minimal, since customers pay by the word.