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<div> <P> Ottakar's is uniquely positioned to take on fierce competition from online rivals with the launch of <A target="_blank" href=""></A> . </P> <P> As the UK's newest addition to the online bookselling war, the company has adopted an innovative `clicks and mortar' strategy to bring local regional bookstores online. Ottakar's will win against the opposition by offering what the others can't - the same personalised expertise, quality of service and choice that book-lovers have come to expect from their local Ottakar's store - but online, open 24 hours a day. </P> <P> &amp;quot;We wanted to overcome the rather anodyne `hypermarket' feel of the bigger sites, by creating the same atmosphere online that customer's enjoy in their local store - to complement our existing service, not replace it,&amp;quot; says James Heneage, managing director and founder of Ottakar's. </P> <P> &amp;quot;What makes this launch unique is that we are using the expertise that already exists amongst our booksellers to create the reviews and comments that will underpin our online service. All our retail staff are 100% behind the online store and will benefit directly as we incorporate all online sales onto their branch totals.&amp;quot; </P> <P> The site has been designed as an extension of Ottakar's already brimming portfolio of services - the company boasts over 70 high street stores nationwide. It features the latest news, reviews, recommendations and gift selections - provided by Ottakar's in-store employees alongside three unique features that are helping the company compete in a crowded and competitive marketplace. </P> <P> OTTAKAR'S EXCLUSIVE FEATURES </P> <UL> <LI>In conjunction with the launch of the main site, Ottakar's is launching the first in a series of `microsites' - Outland - the first satellite site dedicated to Sci-Fi and Fantasy and based on the successful in-store magazine of the same name. Outland will feature new Sci-Fi releases, exclusive competitions and interviews with well-known authors. </UL> <P> Ottakar's plans to launch a full range of microsites each with its own identity, in celebration of the rapid emergence of `web communities' gathered around specialist areas of interest - giving Ottakar's the opportunity to demonstrate its extensive knowledge in individual category areas. </P> <UL> <LI>Ottakar's has also taken a major new initiative in web retailing by creating local websites for everyone of its local stores. With quirky photographs and maps and with staff generated content, the sites will be tailored to the needs of their local shoppers. </UL> <P> Features will include </P> <P> * Local book reviews and features * Up to the minute local information, weather and entertainment, provided by TDL Infospace, an exclusive in the book retail trade * Hand drawn maps of each store location * News of local events </P> <UL> <LI>Ottakar's believes strongly in the personal touch and so to help users get the most out of the online service they can `Ask the Expert', for a personal book search which is carried out by one of Ottakar's booksellers - the best example of the integration of traditional expertise and Internet technology. </UL> <UL> <LI>The nature of the site is epitomised by a weekly book news and gossip column written by `Yossarian' - a quirky and humorous look at the world of books - and the daily competition. The daily competition comprises book related linked questions of varying difficulty, with a prize a day. It is hoped to become as much of an institution as the daily crossword. </UL> <P> About Ottakar's </P> <P> Ottakar's plc (Ottakar's) is one of the UK's leading specialist book retailers trading from 71 stores across England, Scotland and Wales. The company's retail strategy combines stores in prime sites with depth of range and high levels of service, offered to a broad customer base. Stores are located largely in mid-size towns and city suburbs, but since 1997 Ottakar's has developed a number of lifestyle stores in larger towns and cities incorporating coffee shops, seating, expanded range and children's stores. </P> <P> The company is also testing a new childrens' bookstore concept, which has been branded &amp;quot;Launch Pad&amp;quot; which is aimed at children in the 5-12 age group. Launch Pad is based on the principle that &amp;quot;children learn best when having fun&amp;quot; and combines a full range of children's books with educational toys, with a series of interactive learning stations developed by the Science Museum in London. Two stores are currently open at Meadowhall Sheffield and Glasgow. </P> <P> Ottakar's online can be found at <A target="_blank" href=""></A> </P> </div>

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