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barnesandnoble.com, Microsoft to Create eBook Superstore

barnesandnoble.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Thursday created the barnesandnoble.com eBook superstore.

Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the eBook initiative will provide barnesandnoble.com's (BNBN) customers with access to thousands of eBook titles through Microsoft Reader, a new software application designed to deliver an on-screen computer reading experience rivaling that offered by traditional paper-based text.

Microsoft Reader is the first product to include ClearType display technology, a Microsoft innovation that greatly improves font resolution on LCD screens for users of desktop or laptop PCs running the Windows operating system as well as dedicated reading devices. It is expected to ship in the first half of 2000.

barnesandnoble.com and its brick-and-mortar parent Barnes & Noble Inc. have signed agreements with Microsoft to develop and market the Microsoft Reader eBook store. barnesandnoble.com will create the eBook store on its Web site by mid-2000, offering titles that will run on Microsoft Reader software. Barnes & Noble will aggressively market the new eBook store through a variety of promotional activities in its more than 1,000 retail bookstores nationwide.

"The combination of barnesandnoble.com's online strength and Barnes & Noble's dominant retail presence will make Microsoft Reader available to tens of millions of book consumers in a matter of months," said Dick Brass, vice president of technology development for Microsoft (MSFT). "Barnes & Noble invented modern book retailing. We can't think of any other distribution channel that has such combined power and brand awareness."

The alliance was just a taste of Microsoft's effort to push the boundaries of digital Internet. Chief Executive Officer and CES keynote speaker Bill Gates introduced a range of gadgets running Microsoft software, including the next generation of handheld computers, dubbed "pocket pcs." The devices receive e-mail, store personal data and carry pictures and music files.