Concerned by the spurt of online college stores, such as and, a number of bricks-and-mortar booksellers have launched Web initiatives.

Barnes &Noble College Stores have begun, which will sell new and used textbooks online. According to Jade Roth, general merchandise manager for Barnes &Noble College Bookstores, a company that operates independently of Barnes &Noble. Inc., will not house books in physical stores. More than 200,000 titles will be available, she said, with the site also sporting a buyback program. And though it has yet to kick marketing into high gear, textbooks. com will begin a national campaign over the next several months.

The site's most striking feature is the way it seems to go out of its way to disguise Barnes &Noble's ownership. The words Barnes &Noble do not appear anywhere on the site's FAQ. "We wanted to create a clear identity for textbooks. com," Roth said, though customers can click through to from's homepage.

The site also affects a hipper tone, with sentences such as "Tips: If you know the book's ISBN, you're golden. Put the numbers in (no dashes) and hit `submit.' Voila! Your book appeareth."

With the move, Barnes &Noble has a hand in practically every major aspect of the bookselling business: bricks-and-mortar trade frontlist, online trade frontlist, online used backlist, college trade frontlist and backlist and, now, online college frontlist and backlist.

NACS Gets in on the Act

NACS, meanwhile, has partnered with Internet development company to offer Web site assistance to its member stores. will help develop the sites and will thus enhance Courseweb, NACS's program that allows stores to sell and market their books on the Web. The organization hopes 300 stores will sign on by the spring.

On a related note, NACS has enlisted legal counsel to investigate publishers policies toward online startups. The firm of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin and Kahn is polling publishers to determine whether preferential treatment is being given.