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Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK

Business: The Company File

Amazon's shopping spree

Amazon: Expanding its range of books on the Internet

The online bookshop, Amazon, has embarked on a shopping spree of its own and bought three Internet firms for $645m.

Amazon said it wanted to increase its range of books and music and create auction and retail space for independent dealers.

The Seattle-based company said it would purchase, an online trader in rare, antiquarian and used books and music,, an e-commerce company in Redwood City, California, and Alexa Internet, another e-commerce company based in San Francisco. operates, which has more than 9 million used and antiquarian book listings, and, which offers more than 3 million recordings and music memorabilia for sale.

All three acquisitions are expected to go through by 30 June.


Amazon has also announced it is to enter the electronic greeting card business, further expanding the options available from its site.

In a separate announcement, Amazon said it would offer more than 800 cards in 45 categories, all without charge or registration.

It is the company's first completely free service and the first time Amazon has offered a product created in-house.

As with most e-cards, Amazon's offerings are designed for Internet viewing rather than for printing and mailing, said David Risher, senior vice president of product development.

Card senders can design their own messages to accompany hundreds of illustrations, photographs and animations.

Greeting card Web sites have proliferated in recent years. Many, such as Hallmark's, charge as much as $2.50. Others, like industry leader Blue Mountain Arts of Boulder, Colorado, charge nothing and try to make money from online advertising.

Amazon's e-card site, accessible by link from the company's home page, will also be available at

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The Company File Contents

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