What's Quicker Than

I enjoyed '' The wild world of E-commerce'' (Cover Story, Dec. 14), but it missed two relevant points. First, when I go to the bookstore I do not have to pay shipping. I surfed to and found a book I wanted costing $18.95 plus $4.00 for shipping. The local Borders had it--no shipping charge. If I wanted more than one item and some are not in stock, Amazon will either ship them all together or charge for multiple shipments. Either I wait, or pay much more. Second, when I want a book quickly, I've learned to order directly from the publisher so I don't have to wait for Amazon to forward the order.

Douglas Wholey
St. Paul, Minn.

''Internet middleman'' is redundant. The competitors that will drive Amazon out of business are not Barnes & Noble and the like. Rather they are the Web sites of the publishers whose books Amazon sells, and the Internet itself. Using extensible markup language and other improved search technologies, would-be book buyers and publishers will find each other without Amazon's help. Publishers can easily beat Amazon on speed and price and will increase their profit margins greatly in the process. It is not traditional stores that are in danger from the Internet; it is all middlemen. Online middlemen like Amazon will enjoy a brief window of success only until search technology catches up.

John T. Reed
Alamo, Calif.


Updated Dec. 30, 1998 by bwwebmaster
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