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E-tailers Duel on Shipping Charges

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Posted July 2, 2001 By Beth Cox     Feedback

Both Amazon and B&N are offering free shipping on many customer orders of two or more items; Amazon revises some of its prices, both up and down.

Q. Which came first, free shipping on two or more books from, or free shipping on two more books at Barnes &

A. Does it really matter? One nice thing about online competition is that consumers benefit.

That's just what is happening in the e-commerce book store wars, where Barnes & issued a press release touting a new free shipping offer on "everything we sell" if you buy two or more.

"Customer orders of two or more items purchased from the company's - selection of books, CDs, video/DVDs, magazines, and eBooks will be sent free of shipping charges to any destination in the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii," B & N said.

Meanwhile, visitors to were getting a pop-up window saying much the same thing.

"For qualifying orders, the price you see is the price you get--you'll no longer need to factor in shipping charges at the end of your order," Amazon told its visitors.

Amazon, which stopped short of issuing a press release, goes on to say: "We've also changed our pricing on some books, CDs, DVDs, and videos: for some products prices have stayed the same, for some products prices are lower, and for some products we've reduced our discounts."

The phrase, "reduced our discounts," apparently is a euphemism for a price increase without actually saying prices have increased.

Steve Riggio, vice chairman of Barnes &, said "we're offering free shipping without changing our prices or making any fine-print exceptions."

Meanwhile, over at online bookseller, standard shipping remains $3.30 per order plus 99 cents per item. Of course, this being the Web, that could change any second now.

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