Bartleby’s Prefers Not to See Amazon Run Web Books Domain

Herman Melville’s character Bartleby the scrivener famously said he “would prefer not to,” and 160 years later the owner of Bartleby’s Books would prefer not to see Amazon (AMZN).com Inc. control Internet addresses ending in .book.

“I would just hate to see the cultural process that books represent be controlled by a single firm,” John Thomson, owner of Bartleby’s in Washington and president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America Inc., said in an interview.

The trade group of 450 booksellers has joined Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS) and publishers in objecting to Amazon’s application to win ownership of the .book domain. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the non-profit Web administrator, is weighing requests for more than 1,400 new top-level domains — the letters to the right of the dot, such as .com or .net. The first of the new names in the Internet’s biggest expansion are to appear by year’s end.

Amazon and companies from fashion houses to financial institutions paid $185,000 for each application for a fresh domain. Some applicants are betting there’s money to be made selling website addresses under generic designations such as .game or .shop, while others are trying to protect how their brands are used, with names such as .airbus or .qvc. Search-engine owner Google (GOOG) Inc. applied for 101 domains, including .search, .map and .mail.

Icann says 230 names have more than one applicant, and conflicts may have to be resolved through auctions. Paris-based L’Oreal SA (OR), the world’s largest cosmetics maker, is vying for .beauty with Top Level Domain Holdings Plc (TLDH), a London-based company. The U.S. Polo Association, which governs what it calls the “Sport of Kings,” has objected to Polo-brand clothing maker Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL)’s bid for .polo. read more

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