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Amazon.com, AOL Announce New Merchandising Deal

Leading online retailer Amazon.com and America Online today released details of an expanded promotional alliance, under which Amazon.com's selection of products will be available across several AOL brands.

The new agreement builds on an existing relationship between the two Net giants, making the online services company Amazon's largest online partner. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Under terms of the deal, Amazon.com products will be made available in e-commerce sections of AOL's online properties AOL.COM, Netscape Netcenter and CompuServe.

Tuesday's agreement extends a prior marketing alliance in which Amazon products were carried on AOL.COM and Netcenter. Company spokespeople said the success of that alliance, which the companies began in 1997, prompted discussions of expanded arrangements to include CompuServe.

The companies said the agreement will also make it more convenient for consumers on these sites to order and pre-order extremely popular items, such as new digital cameras and book titles.

"We want to make shopping as easy as possible for our customers," said Amazon.com founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos. "We're happy to extend our alliance with AOL, a company that shares our vision for electronic commerce and makes it even more convenient for people to shop Amazon.com."

"Amazon.com is one of the best-known online retailers in the world, and I'm pleased to extend a relationship that has clearly been successful for both of us over the past several years," said AOL president and chief operating officer Bob Pittman.

"Amazon.com offers exactly the kind of quality, selection and customer service that AOL.COM and Netscape visitors have come to know and trust, and by extending these relationships and expanding them to include CompuServe, this new alliance gives consumers more reason than ever to shop online with these America Online, Inc. brands," Pittman added.

The news is the second big partner announcement this week for Amazon. Yesterday, the online retailer announced that its future e-books store will use Microsoft's Reader format.

Through terms of Monday's deal, Amazon will use a customized, co-branded version of Microsoft's Reader software for downloading and displaying e-books on a PC or handheld device. The agreement is Amazon's first step toward opening a digital bookstore.

Amazon competitor Barnesandnoble.com already offers e-books on its Web site in Microsoft Reader, Glassbook and Rocket eBook formats.