The, an online employment service that provides information to job seekers, may be the next big Web commerce success story, and if it is, book publishing will have played a big part. was launched in 1996 in New York City by Mark Oldman and two brothers, Hussam Hamadeh and Samer Hamadeh. Noah Zucker, VR's director of book sales and marketing, told PW that after Oldman and Samer Hamadeh teamed up to write two bestselling internship guides, the trio decided to start their own company, a "Cliff's Notes for careers."

The VR Web site provides a variety of free online information and services, including company profiles, job listings, research information, career advice and e-mail newsletters. It also publishes its company profiles in trade paperback book form for sale through its own online bookstore and through college and general bookstores.

Sales are growing. "The Web site is really good, but people want books," said Zucker, who noted that "the Web supports the books, and vice versa." The site's big attractions are the lively and candid company profiles. These sometimes biting commentaries touch on everything from salaries to dress codes to office atmosphere (Knopf is said to be "snobbish and style-conscious," although RH in general is praised for "a remarkable climate of tolerance.").

The company has profiled more than 1000 firms and compiled the information into seven industry guidebooks, with more to come. Among their titles are Media &Entertainment, Top 50 Law Firms and The High Tech Industry, which is currently a hot seller on

The company uses Lightning Print's on-demand service for many of its books, and booksellers can order via the Web site.