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SoftBank, 7-Eleven Aim To Be Japan's Amazon

Propelling the business beyond the Slurpee, Japanese conglomerate Softbank Corp. Thursday joined forces with Japan's 7-Eleven convenience store chain to sell books and CDs online.

The joint venture, called E-Shopping Books, will offer a book-selling service heavily modeled after Amazon.com, according to published reports. The new service will offer online reader book reviews and other features similar to those of the popular American e-tailer.

Unlike Amazon, buyers can have their orders delivered by mail or they can arrange to pick them at a local 7-Eleven store.

E-Shopping Books will begin service in November.

Softbank, which has set up Japanese versions of popular U.S. Internet businesses such as Yahoo! Japan, will take a 50 percent stake in the business, with 7-Eleven Japan controlling 30 percent and the remainder divided between Yahoo! Japan Corp. and Japanese publishing house Tohan Corp. Softbank was one of the early backers of Yahoo! and controls 28 percent of the company.

Softbank discussed a joint venture with Amazom.com's Jeffrey Bezos, but ultimately chose local partners to cater more effectively to the Japanese market, reports said.

7-Eleven Japan bought U.S. Seven-Eleven operator Southland Corp. in 1991, and is 50 percent owned by Japanese supermarket chain Ito-Yokado Co.

Softbank's shares jumped 14 percent Thursday on the news, and Seven-Eleven soared to a record high.