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Amazon.com Launches Auction Site

On the heels of Monday's announcement that it would enter the online auction arena, and go toe-to-toe with leader eBay, Amazon.com Tuesday officially launched Amazon.com Auctions.

Hoping to begin immediately drawing from its large pool of customers, Amazon.com has already registered its 8 million customers who can buy and sell immediately. The auction area is segmented into 800 categories, including antiques, scientific instruments, stamps, animation art, Star Wars trading cards, dolls, vintage clothing, and digital cameras. The giant e-tailer said the service was designed with ease of use in mind.

To ensure safe auction practices, Amazon offers the Amazon.com Auctions Guarantee, which covers purchases of up to $250 in case a buyer doesn't get what a seller promised. Amazon is also instituting other safety measures such as a community rating and feedback system.

In addition, sellers will automatically be able to have their auctions cross-merchandised across Amazon.com's pages e-tailing books, CDs, and video products.

To kick off its auction initiative, Amazon is is offering first-time winning bidders a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate, which can be redeemed in the company's book, music, video, and gift stores.

Also on the promotional front, Amazon.com is spearheading a charity auction to support the World Wildlife Fund's efforts to preserve endangered animals in the Amazon River Basin. Beginning Tuesday, users can bid on rare items, such as an Andy Warhol painting, a book signed by Ernest Hemingway and additional items signed by celebrities including John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Ken Griffey Jr., and Greta Garbo.

"Our community of shoppers is the largest online," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and chief executive officer.

"Now, for the first time, anyone can introduce their products to that community. Whether you're a professional retailer or an individual with one item to sell, there's no other way to reach 8 million pre-registered, experienced online buyers."