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AMAZON expands Japan online book business to music, DVDs

TOKYO (AP) _ The Japanese unit of U.S. retailer expanded its online business Wednesday from selling books to music compact discs, digital video disks and videotapes.

But the main attraction for potential buyers will be the wide selection and time saved, as opposed to prices, because of pricing regulations in Japan on books and other products sold on Amazon's Japanese language Web site that limit discounting, officials said. Chairman Jeff Bezos acknowledged his company's Japanese operations were not about to start turning a profit anytime soon.

The entire company has yet to post a profit, although Bezos has said it is aiming for pro forma operating profitability, which excludes losses from investments, stock options and other costs, by the end of this year.

``Japan deserves to be in an investment phase,'' said Bezos, in Tokyo for the announcement of the business expansion. ``I am truly astonished at the response we have gotten from Japan.''

In the seven months since, the Japanese Web site, opened for business, the 2,000 Amazon customers in Japan grew to 400,000, Bezos told reporters. And electronic commerce holds great potential in this nation, he said.

Internet use in Japan still lags behind the United States, although it is gradually catching up, especially with Net-linking cell phones. Amazon has set up a site that can be accessed through the Net-linking i-mode mobile service, which has attracted more than 24 million people in Japan.

The Japanese site offers 360,000 CD titles, 10,000 DVD titles and 66,000 video titles, the Seattle-based company said. Shipping is free for purchases over $41.

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