February 1, 2000 7:40 AM PST

Online book retailers turn up volume with audio deals

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Barnesandnoble.com, the online retailer of books, CDs, and videos, today said it was launching bnRadio, an Internet radio service it hopes will help increase product sales.

The radio service allows customers to listen to more than 25,000 songs and excerpts from audio versions of books using Real Networks? Real Audio G2 player.

The move comes a day after barnesandnoble.com's chief rival, Amazon.com, took a five percent stake in Audible.com, a company that delivers audio versions of books and newspapers online. That deal gave Amazon's 16 million customers access to more than 20,000 hours of digital audio content, including a collection of audiobooks by best-selling authors Stephen King and John Grisham.

The two deals underscore how e-commerce sites are trying to boost sales as investors become increasingly concerned about growing marketing costs and are beginning to demand some signs of profitability.

Both Amazon and barnesandnoble.com offer music selections that can be digitally downloaded, as well as 30-second cuts of songs provided as samples to help customers make purchase choose what albums they want to buy.

"With bnRadio, we are combining full-length audio selections with deep editorial content, enabling our customers to make informed purchasing decisions,'' said Daniel Blackman, director of music, video and software for barnesandnoble.com, in a statement.

Customers can purchase CDs or audiobooks directly through bnRadio at the barnesandnoble.com site.

The company said it partnered with RadioAMP to create the bnRadio application. As part of the agreement, RadioAMP will also build co-branded tuners for barnesandnoble.com's Affiliate Network, as well as third-party sites from which barnesandnoble.com provides services.

RadioAMP is a venture-funded start-up that builds audio products and services.


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