Press release

Shopping for Books on the Internet Isn't Just for Tech Buyers Anymore; Amazon.com, World's Largest Bookseller, Tracks Who's Buying Online

June 14, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT

June 14, 1996--What do Dilbert, Robert Jordan, John Grisham and Lladro collectibles have in common? They are some of the most popular authors -- and subjects -- among book buyers on the Internet today, according to Amazon.com Books, the leading bookstore on the Web, which has the world's largest selection of books. While computer-related books were early favorites, Web buyers are now increasingly likely to choose popular bestsellers or specific subject interests, reflecting the diversity and growing number of people who are using the Web, announced Amazon.com at the American Bookseller's Association conference today.

Amazon.com Books (http://www.amazon.com), which opened its virtual doors on the World Wide Web less than a year ago, offers a catalogue of more than 1 million titles and easy online ordering. The Amazon.com Bestseller List updates the most popular books on the Web each week.

Dilbert, Scott Adams' cartoon character who comments wryly on life amidst computers and managers, was an early favorite among Web-savvy readers. While The Dilbert Principle made headlines in the publishing industry just six weeks ago, when it climbed onto The New York Times Bestseller List (which ranks bookstore sales across the country), all of Adams' Dilbert books have been fixtures on the Amazon.com Bestseller List for months.

Robert Jordan is much better known among the science-fiction and fantasy cognoscenti than among the general public. In fact, Jordan is so popular among his fans that they helped land his latest book, Crown of Swords, on the Amazon.com Bestseller List more than four months before it had even been published. Using Amazon.com's online catalogue and ordering system, droves of fans paid for the book in advance. They used the customer review feature (which allows any Web user to comment on a book listing) to rate the book to actually rate the unpublished book, hoping to persuade Jordan to finish the book early!

The Dilbert Principle and Crown of Swords are signs of the continued popularity of computer-related and science-fiction books, which still rank as the best selling categories among Web book buyers. But they have been joined on the Amazon.com Bestseller list by such authors as John Grisham, Jane Smiley and Stephen King and by such books as Primary colors and I Was Amelia Earhart, which have been sleeper hits among readers nationally. Literary fiction is the number three category among subscribers to Amazon.com's Editor's Service, a unique email notification service which alerts readers to new books in their favorite genres.

"The increasing popularity of national authors at Amazon.com is a sign of changes among Web users," says Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Books founder and CEO. "Not only are more people around the world using the Web, but they are increasingly comfortable with the convenience of shopping online."

Beyond the bestseller list, Web book buyers are choosing an exceptionally broad range of special interest books. In a recent week at Amazon.com, customers made multiple book purchases on such topics as Lladro collectibles, kosher cooking, veterinary medicine and French film theory, just to name a few.

"Just as the Web is the ideal medium for people to find information on special interests or to meet others who share their interest, no matter how obscure, a Web-based bookstore is the ideal way to find books on a very specific topic," notes Bezos. "With our 1 million title catalogue and customers from more than 95 countries, we are matching readers to books and publishers to customers in new ways. Those individual orders -- from three books on Charlie Chaplin to four books on pulmonary medicine -- are an everchanging snapshot of books and people on the Web today."

Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, Amazon.com is headquartered in Seattle and is privately held. Amazon.com Books is the leading bookstore on the Web, with the world's largest selection of books. The Internet-only bookstore offers a catalogue of 1.1 million titles, easy-to-use search and browse features, email services, Web-based credit card payment and direct shipping to customers. Amazon.com's name pays homage to the Amazon River. Just as the Amazon River is more than eight times the size of the world, Amazon.com's catalogue is more than eight times the size of the largest physical bookstore.