Guardian strikes Bertelsmann deal

BOL, the Bertelsmann online bookselling venture (www.bol.com), has signed up The Guardian as its first major e-commerce partner in the UK.

BOL, which aims to rival Amazon.com as Europe’s top-selling online bookseller, launches the first phase of its e-commerce roll-out in Germany and France this month. It expects to launch UK and Dutch services later this spring, with a Spanish service planned for later this year.

The Guardian deal will provide a major boost for the online distribution plans for Bertelsmann’s bookselling venture, which aims to extend the product range offered once its bookselling service is settled down.

Amazon.com has already secured exclusive deals with major UK online publishers, including Associated New Media and Electronic Telegraph, through which it operates the co-branded site www.booksonline.co.uk, as well as portals including Yahoo!

The partnership with The Guardian is thought to involve a co-branded site. It will offer books on subjects related to the editorial content of the Webpages in the network of Guardian Unlimited sites. It is believed the deal will run for three years.

Neither The Guardian or BOL would confirm this week that a deal has been finalised.

However, according to a statement from The Guardian’s new media division: “The Guardian is in the process of finalising a contract with BOL, the Bertelsmann online bookselling service, for an exclusive retail partnership. The deal will allow users to purchase books across all sites of The Guardian Unlimited network.”

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