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Online Site: African-American Books

October 18, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ HarperCollins and Black Entertainment Television will launch by year’s end an Internet retailer and magazine specializing in African-American books and authors.

The Amistad Bookstore will open on BET’s online portal, BET.com, which attracts an estimated 1 million monthly visitors, the companies said Wednesday.

``The significance of this relationship is that it makes African-American themes more accessible to the African-American community,″ said Charles Harris, founder of Amistad Press, an imprint of HarperCollins that publishes black authors.

The site will feature reviews, interviews, excerpts and online chats with authors. An advisory board will include writers from rival publishers, including novelist Charles Johnson (Scribner) and biographer Arnold Rampersad (Alfred A. Knopf).

The announcement comes at a time when several publishers have recently started black imprints and access to computers among blacks is rising, although still well behind that of whites. According to a Commerce Department study released this week, 23.5 percent of black households had Internet access as of August, barely half the rate for white households of 46.1 percent.

The black rate was 11.2 percent in the 1999 survey.

``The digital divide is rapidly closing,″ said Scott Mills, chief operating officer of BET.com. ``There’s a robust African-American community online.″


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