INTERACTIVE: BATTLE OF THE BOOKS IS HEATING UP ON THE NET: BARNES &NOBLE BUILDS ON AOL DEAL; AMAZON TAPS APOSPOROS

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The month of May is looking to be quite bookish.

Barnes & Noble launches on the Web later this month, while Amazon.com is securing high-level talent to guide its new-business efforts.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Amazon.com has hired George Aposporos, a New York media consultant who has brokered deals for Rodale Press and advised marketers including Starbucks, to lead its online marketing efforts as VP-business development.

Mr. Aposporos will join Amazon.com this month from New York-based Digital Brands, a consultancy he founded in November 1995. He will turn his existing clients over to Sandler New Media, led by President Susan Sandler.

IN QUIET PERIOD

Neither Mr. Aposporos, who was responsible for a short-lived union between Rodale and AT&T Corp., nor Amazon.com declined to comment on Mr. Aposporos' plans at the online book site. Amazon.com announced on March 24 that it's filing for an initial public offering and is now in its quiet period.

The company moved its $5 million to $10 million traditional advertising account from CKS Partners, Portland, Ore., to Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, last month.

Mr. Aposporos' hire will be important for Amazon. The site quickly established a stronghold in the Web bookselling market after its July 1995 launch and has built its virtual bookshelves to include more than 2.5 million titles-twice as many as Barnes & Noble makes available online.

However, Amazon.com can expect competition from rival book store chains racing to bring the $20 billion bookselling industry to the Web.

DEAL WITH AOL

The Barnes & Noble site, built by designer Roger Black's Interactive Bureau, New York, will be previewed this week and will open to consumers later this month.

Barnes & Noble earlier this year became the exclusive bookseller on America Online, offering discounts of 20% to 30% on more than 1 million titles.

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