"It's a huge market and guess where that business is going--south of the border," says Andrew Nopper, project manager for the new bookshelf.ca site (www.bookshelf.ca).
Canadians spend an estimated $5 million to $6.5 million a year buying books with online U.S. sites.
Promotion for the new site will be by way of Web banners and links on Canada's No. 1 Internet service, Sympatico, which is behind the site along with bookstore The Bookshelf.
There is no advertising planned for traditional media. "Our experience is that it doesn't work," says Mr. Nopper. "We don't plan to lose $20 million a quarter," he says, as have some U.S. e-commerce sites that spent heavily on traditional media.
Bookshelf.ca bills itself as "the place for book lovers," and offers buyers 2.5 million English-language books now in print, especially books from the U.K. and the British Commonwealth, items difficult to find on U.S. sites.
Prices are discounted 20% off cover prices and bookshelf.ca is positioning itself as a cheaper alternative to U.S. sites, where Canadians have to pay hefty currency exchange rates.
Developing the site was MediaLinx Interactive, Toronto, which provides the Sympatico service in partnership with Canada's regional phone companies.
National Canadian bookstore chain Chapters Inc. has teamed with the Globe & Mail newspaper for its online bookstore, ChaptersGlobe.com. That site is slated to launch by Oct. 31.
Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.