Amazon.com Heads Far East

E-tailing giant Amazon.com launched a Japanese-language site
featuring 1.7 million book titles to serve Japanese-speaking customers in
Japan and around the world.

The company said Japan is its largest export market, with 193,000 customers
and annualized sales of $34 million. Amazon said it would offer a discount of
up to 30 percent on all books in languages other than Japanese and provide
free delivery within Japan until the end of the year.

The company also plans to sell video and audio products on the new site.
Japan was the home of Amazon.com’s millionth customer, who received a
personal delivery of books from Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in
Tokyo in 1997.

Amazon stock was up $2.37 to $39 in mid-morning trading.

Basis Technology provided
the software, engineering and internationalization technology for Amazon’s
Japanese site. Amazon’s other international sites include the French-language
Amazon.fr, launched Aug. 31 of this year, the German-language Amazon.de, and
Amazon.co.uk.

Amazon’s operations in Japan include offices in Tokyo, a distribution center
in Ichikawa, Chiba prefecture, and a customer service center in Sapporo,
Hokkaido.

Interestingly, as Amazon was launching in Tokyo, Microsoft and Japanese
bookseller Kinokuniya Co. said they will team up to market e-books in English
via the Internet starting next spring and in the Japanese language from the
middle of 2001.

Kinokuniya and Microsoft will co-market, co-promote, and basically try to
create demand, according to Microsoft e-book development manager Jon Denka.

“We will be providing Kinokuniya with the best technology and they will be
licensing our technology,” Denka was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Bezos expressed confidence in Amazon’s business model, cash
position and accounting practices, following moves by the U.S Securities and
Exchange Commission to look into them.

“I wouldn’t change any of our strategy,” he told Reuters on a trip to Tokyo
for the launch.

Amazon announced in its
recent earnings report
that the SEC was looking int

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