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Wednesday, December 01, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
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Electronics gear outsells books on Amazon.com

By Monica Soto Ouchi
Seattle Times retail reporter

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Online retail giant Amazon.com is known first and foremost as a bookseller, but DVD players and wireless routers are driving sales these days.

During the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, consumer electronics surpassed books as Amazon's largest sales category. The milestone, set at a time when its book business also posted record sales, is an important indication that Amazon can diversify beyond media products.

While the Seattle-based company sells everything from caviar to apparel, sales of books, music, videos and DVDs represented three-quarters of its $4.4 billion in sales for the first nine months of the year.

Amazon expanded its consumer-electronics selection and lowered prices. It also offered deeper product information, including tens of thousands of product manuals on its site, aimed at helping customers feel comfortable about buying higher-ticket items.

The company's top-selling electronics between Nov. 1 and 23 were a SanDisk digital card, a Philips Progressive-Scan DVD Player and Netgear wireless cable/DSL router.

While each of those items retail well below $100, the company expects more expensive items to fare well during the holiday season, including Apple 40 GB iPod Photo, which sells for $474.05 on its site. (It is $499 on Apple's Web site.)

Amazon wasn't the only online retailer to see brisk electronics sales during the Thanksgiving weekend. PC maker Dell said its U.S. consumer business Web site received more than 3.3 million visits between Thursday and Friday — a 60 percent jump over the same period a year ago.

Online retail sales, excluding travel, will exceed $15 billion during the last two months of the year, according to comScore Networks, which tracks browsing and buying online.

Sales jumped 35 percent to $1.23 billion during the five days ending Black Friday compared with the same period a year ago.

Consumers didn't wait for their turkey to settle, either.
 
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While Thanksgiving Day is considered a light shopping day online, sales doubled from the year before to $133 million.

Monica Soto Ouchi: 206-515-5632 or msoto@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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