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Barnesandnoble.com Takes E-Commerce to the Streets

In a move that would give barnesandnoble.com the edge over its rival Amazon.com the company is experimenting with a service in New York City that provides same-day delivery of books purchased on the Web -- directly to consumers' doorsteps.

Using bike messengers and delivery vans to zip books to customers' doorsteps in the city, barnesandnoble.com is attempting to address one of the biggest complaints about online shopping -- that it can take too long to receive products bought on the Web.

The experiment is still in its infancy. For now, the online bookseller doesn't even tell customers that they can get their packages delivered any faster than the typical wait of between three and seven days.

But barnesandnoble.com (BNBN) is testing the program with a mind to expand to other metropolitan areas, possibly even using books off the shelves of its brick-and-mortar stores to fill orders in areas where it doesn't have warehouses, according to company executives.

Since its birth, barnesandnoble.com has struggled in the shadow of Web company Amazon.com (AMZN), which has more than 10 times the market capitalization, and reported seven times as much revenue for the third quarter as barnesandnoble.com. Still, the prospect of quick delivery could be a major boon to barnesandnoble.com.

If the experiment is successful, barnesandnoble.com says it could give brick-and-mortar stores an advantage over their Internet-only counterparts.