The new store will sell Christian books, Bibles, music, videos, electronic cards, toys and games, and help shoppers find and discover tens of thousands of Christian products, all in a searchable and easy-to-navigate dedicated Christian envisonment. Among the features is a "BibleFinder" that will help customers select from among the 7000 Bible titles offered. The store will discount a handful of bestsellers by up to 40%. Unlike the rest of Amazon's site, however, items will not be cross-merchandised outside the Christian area out of sensitivity to some customers.

Though Amazon has greatly expanded its product base of late by adding such items as toys and electronics, the move marks the first time in recent months that it has created a large-scale specialty store that will compete directly with existing specialty bookstores. It will also compete with niche book clubs such as Doubleday Direct's Crossings. Other specialty areas could be in the works, said a spokesperson.

Although CBA officials were unavailable for comment last week, executives at Family Christian Stores and the Parable Group took the news in stride. Parable's Jim Seybert observed, "It is the specialists that always win, and we are the specialists."