Online‘s youth-oriented instant messaging service, and VarsityBooks.com, an online college
textbook retailer, on Thursday trumpeted a broad-ranging pact that calls
for the two companies to partner in targeting the online college market.
The deal calls for VarsityBooks.com to pay ICQ $9 million over the three
years of the commitment.
The deal gives VarsityBooks.com placement on ICQ’s student-oriented content
and commerce channels, as well as on the instant messaging application
itself. VarsityBooks.com will become ICQ’s exclusive seller of
college-targeted goods, including textbooks, for a one-year period.
Besides providing ICQ with merchandise, and, presumably, a cut of the
profits, VarsityBooks.com will help distribute the ICQ application and
co-market ICQ’s brand, by offering a co-branded version of the program and
a co-branded student bookstore.
The deal also calls for AOL to get the opportunity to purchase a three
percent stake in VarsityBooks.com, if certain performance criteria are met.
“At ICQ, we select our alliances very carefully. We chose VarsityBooks.com
because they are uniquely positioned to be the leading online retailer and
marketer to the college demographic which is a major part of ICQ’s audience
of 50 million worldwide,” says Ted Leonsis, president of AOL interactive
“ICQ and VarsityBooks.com are two big college brands that, working
together, can be even bigger and better.”