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Merged sites separate but equal

The two most popular women-related Web sites on the Internet will continue to operate separately, says the man behind their recent merger. and have often vied with each other for the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings for women. And together, according to Media Metrix, the sites command 12.8 million visitors.

Yet Douglas McCormick, chief executive of iVillage and the person named to head the combined companies, says that at this point the two sites have only 15 percent overlap in users. benefits from its tie with magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Redbook because its users generally are interested in feature stories. IVillage, on the other hand, focuses more on "solutions for everyday life" such as tax tips or breast-cancer prevention.

Blue light special?

SAN FRANCISCO (Bloomberg) -- LLC, the Web site that's 60 percent owned by Kmart Corp., plans to help generate about a third of the discount chain's sales by 2005 by leading shoppers into stores, Chief Executive Mark Goldstein said.

By then, 34 percent of all products sold in Kmart stores will be influenced by what customers see on, Goldstein told a Robertson Stephens investment conference.

"People like to hit the Web sites before buying something, and in-store sales are now being influenced by what people see online," Goldstein said. "We are going to do everything we can to leverage the Kmart brand." will be paid a percentage of the in-store sales that it generates, Goldstein said.

Priority system for bandwidth

In an effort to save bandwidth while keeping Web access open, schools and companies are installing technology that prioritizes academic and business Internet traffic over that for entertainment and games.

The technology acts as a compromise between banning students and employees from bandwidth-hogging Web sites such as music file-swapping service Napster Inc. -- moves that have spurred freedom-of-speech complaints -- and giving people free rein to drain sorely needed bandwidth.

The move comes as businesses and universities are installing increasingly complex applications to run operations and transactions online.

Web firm will begin charging

NEW YORK (AP) -- In another sign that Internet giveaways do not always last, a major online custom press will soon stop offering free basic service. Xlibris, a Philadelphia-based company owned in part by Random House, will charge a minimum of $200 to publish a book.

"The price change reflects the current competitive situation, the high value of our service and the cost of doing business," the company announced Thursday in a statement posted on its Web site.

The fee becomes effective March 1. Current rates, which range from nothing to $1,200 for "premium" service, will apply to submissions postmarked before that date.

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