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Amazon.com Enjoys Soaring Sales in Korea

Amazon.com, the world's largest Internet-based bookstore, saw its sales growing rapidly in Korea.

The company sold a total of 3,087 books, worth 190.97 million won (about US$15,910) in less than two months since it launched sales in Korea in late March, according to Samsung Corp. Amazon.com is selling books in Korea through SIS & Amazon, an online bookshop run by Samsung Corp.

Through the Korean shop, Amazon.com sold 385 books in March and 1,954 books in April. Officials of Samsung anticipate that more than 3,000 books will be sold in May through the Internet bookshop.

Among the best-selling books in Korea through Amazon.com are The Speed of Thought by Bill Gates, which was ranked as the top with 154 books sold, and Direct from Dell by Michael Dell, which was ranked second with 85 books.

Also, Goldman Sachs by Lisa Endlich was the third best-seller, which was followed by a guide book for Java technology The Complete Idiot's Guide to Java 1.2 by Michael Morrison.

By category, computer-related books accounted for 28 percent of the entire sales in Korea by Amazon.com through SIS & Amazon site. Books about economy and management constituted 23 percent, while e-commerce books took 18 percent.

The officials of Samsung Corp. said that an overwhelming majority of purchasers of books from Amazon.com are government organizations and research institutes, although the percentage of individual customers is increasing steadily.

"Amazon.com's book sales in Korea are growing at a faster clip than expected due largely to customer-oriented marketing efforts, although it started its business in Korea just two months ago through collaboration with us," said a Samsung official. "With such a growth trend, Amazon.com is expected to clinch nearly 20 percent of the domestic market for imported books by the end of this year."

Faced with tough challenges from Amazon.com, Kyobo Book Center, the nation's largest bookstore controlling about 15 percent of local imported book market, is on an alert. It is struggling to sharpen its competitive edge in terms of both price and service.

Kyobo officials claimed that they have secured a price-wise competitiveness against Amazon.com by lowering their book delivery cost to US$5. The Korean bookstore also shortened the time required for delivery from the previous 15-20 days after receipt of orders to 7-10 days.

"Kyobo has been preparing for the challenge from Amazon.com," said Park In-Hwan, president of Kyobo Book Center. "Eventually, customers will benefit from the competition as both Kyobo and Amazon.com will compete fiercely to offer better service and information."



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