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NYT site devoted to books

The New York Times launches a site devoted to books with daily content and searchable archives of more than 50,000 of the newspaper's reviews.

Even with all the bells and whistles of the Net, plain old books are still best-sellers.

On the heels of the initial public offering of popular online shop Amazon.com yesterday, the New York Times launched a site today devoted to books with daily content and searchable archives of more than 50,000 of the newspaper's reviews.

New York Times subscribers can read the first chapters of some best-sellers and recently reviewed books, chat about titles in forums, hear Terry Gross from "Fresh Air" interview selected authors, and hear other writers read from their works.

The site also includes links to entire back issues of the New York Times Book Review. Like many newspaper sites, the Times is repackaging already published material for the Web, but it also has Web exclusives.

Books on the Web have proved to be a lucrative market. The Times' site contains a link to Amazon.com, a strategically placed ad. Surfers could potentially read a review on the Times and then head over to buy the book without ever leaving their desktops.

Other booksellers are surging onto the Net, increasing competition for Amazon.com, which filed its IPO in hopes of raising $33.9 million to pay for anticipated operating losses, capital expenditures, and other costs, the company said yesterday.

Earlier this month, the bookseller cut prices up to 40 percent on cover prices for its hottest-selling books and doubled its inventory to 2.5 million titles. Amazon slashed prices when it was announced that the physical world's book giant, Barnes & Noble, would start selling books on America Online by late spring. Borders is also readying to sell books online.

Although Amazon.com is seeking cash to extend its brand, the company has already made a mark with its exclusive Net store. Amazon.com has posted sales of over $16 million and handled approximately 180,000 customer accounts since it was founded in July 1995.