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Amazon Targets Classical Listeners

Online bookseller Amazon.com, Inc., which announced plans this summer to begin competing in the music e-tail arena, today said it added 42,000 new classical and opera titles to its selection of CDs.

Amazon said the increase brings its total number of music store selections to over 200,000 titles.

The company said classical offerings will be complemented by search tools, reviews, editors' recommendations for 1,000-plus classical and opera CDs, and thousands of classical and opera bestseller lists.

"There is only one recording of Kind of Blue or Revolver," said Amazon.com senior vice president David Risher, "but there are more than 100 recordings of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and more than 200 recordings of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Customers want to be able to choose from all the available recordings yet quickly find the one they want."

Contributing Amazon.com classical music editors will include New York Times and Stereophile critic Robert Levine, and NPR music commentator Ted Libbey. Additional reviews and feature interviews with recording artists will be provided by classical magazine Gramophone.

Amazon, the "earth's biggest bookseller," marked its entry into the Web-based CD sales market this past June. It faces intense competition from the leading CD e-tailer CDNow, as well as music entertainment firm N2K.

Both CDnow and N2K already feature significant classical music areas on their respective Web sites.