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Online book battle

SHARES OF Amazon.com, the world's largest online bookseller, fell as much as 13 per cent in early New York trading after the German media giant Bertelsmann said it would buy 50 per cent of Barnes & Noble's online arm for $200m.

Bertelsmann, the largest publisher of English-language books, and Barnes & Noble, the number one book retailer in the US, will each invest $100m in barnesandnoble.com. The combination is likely to create stiff competition for money-losing Amazon, whose shares had risen 260 per cent this year amid expectations of higher sales.