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eToys' next chapter: children's books

Internet retailer eToys adds children's books to the merchandise it offers, further expanding from its beginnings as a toy seller on the Internet.

Internet retailer eToys has added children's books to the merchandise it offers, further expanding from its beginnings as a toy seller on the Internet.

The move comes a month after speculation that online bookseller Amazon.com would expand its product offering to include toys.

The eToys bookstore is the sixth children's category added to eToys' flagship toy store in the last nine months. The bookstore opened its virtual doors over the weekend and the company hopes the addition of children's books will strengthen the site as a destination for children's products.

The company also recently expanded its product line with the acquisition of BabyCenter, a site providing information about babies and pregnancy as well as baby products and supplies.

Santa Monica, California-based eToys will have a selection of more than 80,000, some of which will be featured as picks-of-the-month.

The emergence of eToys has rattled the brick-and-mortar powerhouse Toys R' Us which launched toysrus.com in response. eToys sprang out of nowhere in late 1997 to become the fifth most-visited Internet retailing site by December 1998 with about 3.9 million individual shoppers, according MediaMetrix.

Last month, Derek Brown, an analyst who covers e-commerce companies for Volpe Brown Whelan, said that online retailer Amazon.com had made moves to jump into the online toy market. Other companies trying to sell toys online include Netoy and toymaker Mattel.