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The day Carl Rosendorf opened the doors to Cybersmith, an Internet cafe based in Cambridge, Mass., the news splashed on the front page of The Boston Globe, on evening newscasts and in Time.

"It was phenomenal to see the thrill of using the Internet at that time," Mr. Rosendorf said. "Nobody was bringing it to the masses in '95."

That was a deciding moment for Mr. Rosendorf, who briefly left a career in book publishing to explore the Web with an Internet cafe startup. Two years later, he returned to Barnes & Noble to take on an even bigger challenge: trying to head off, which had built a steady lead in online book sales.

A year later, Mr. Rosendorf predicts ( will make $100 million in sales by yearend. He also expects 10,000 members to be signed up for its affiliates sales network in June.

Disney Online, MSNBC, Time Warner/CNN and USA Today, have all developed a BarnesandNoble book page on their sites, referring traffic and sales to BarnesandNoble.

Another coup in the war against was locking down an exclusive bookselling deal on America Online.

Mr. Rosendorf spent his college summers working in a bookstore, going on to climb the ranks of United Bookstores and Follett/United, eventually landing at Barnes & Noble's College Bookstore division, where he was first exposed to the Net.

And even though Mr. Rosendorf's job has him commuting between New York and his weekend home in Boston, he said this job was too good to pass up.

"The opportunity for me to work with Barnes & Noble . . . was tremendous."

Betcha didn't know: Mr. Rosendorf is politically active, currently working on the finance committee for Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, who's running for governor.

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