Salon, a popular cultural and political Web magazine, has ended its three-year bookselling partnership with Borders Online and announced a new two-year exclusive deal with barnesand-

Michael O'Donnell, publisher of Salon, told PW the new deal with B& will pay Salon fees for a variety of banner advertising, promotions, links, a co-branded storefront and Salon reviews as well as a commission (about 7%, based on volume) on books sold to Salon readers. B& will also sponsor Salon's annual book awards. Salon has "a strong audience among online book lovers," said Carol Rosendorf, head of sales and marketing at B& The site claims about 600,000 unique viewers a month.Asked whether B&N had taken an investment stake in Salon, O'Donnell replied, "Not at this time. But you never know."Salon's switch to B& is fueling speculation that Borders Online, a very distant third place (perhaps even farther back) in the online bookselling race, has abandoned plans to aggressively compete online. However, Jody Kohn, a spokesperson for Borders, told PW "that [such speculation] is absolutely not true." According to Kohn, "We mutually agreed with Salon to end the relationship." She also emphasized that Borders would be launching an aggressive holiday marketing campaign, both online and in-store, in the next few weeks.O'Donnell agreed that "[the split] was mutual; we're parting as friends." Kohn also noted that Borders remains a small investor in Salon. Nevertheless, the computing and Web commerce journal the Industry Standard quoted Salon CEO David Talbott as pointing out that Borders had decided on a "less aggressive" strategy and was not as focused on Internet sales as an online magazine required. O'Donnell told PW that Talbot was "misquoted."O'Donnell also noted that Salon has two books coming out in 1999, Mothers Who Think (Villard) and Salon's Guide to Contemporary Literature(Viking Penguin).