Rival online bookstores in bestseller price war

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The Independent Online
A PRICE war erupted last night between online bookshops which are offering discounts of as much as 50 per cent.

Amazon, the world's largest Internet bookseller, which launched its British based bookstore Amazon.co.uk last October, has reduced the cost of the 40 books on the Whittaker Booktrack bestsellers' list to half-price.

Its arch-rival, the new British internet bookshop BOL.com, intends to match Amazon's discounts, and will announce its new prices by the end of the week.

The price reductions follow last week's news that the internet operation of WH Smith, the UK's largest high street bookseller, was discounting the 20 best-selling hardbacks by 50 per cent.

The price war coincides with the publication of Hannibal, Thomas Harris's latest novel featuring the brutal but erudite killer, which is selling as fast as bookstores can get hold of it. Amazon has priced Hannibal at pounds 8.33 plus pounds 2.45 postage and packing. The total, pounds 10.78, is pounds 6.21 cheaper than the retail price. Steven Blackburn, BOL.com's marketing manager, said that the store would be selling Hannibal at half price in the next few days.

Online book sales are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, although the online book market is still too small to constitute a threat to traditional book retailers.

Amazon's UK site has always discounted but only up to 40 per cent. The top 40 titles were previously sold at between 20 per cent and 40 per cent below the full retail price.