13.1 Setting up Shop
Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet

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     Back in olden days, oh, before 1990 or so, there were no markets in
the virtual community -- if you wanted to buy a book, you still had to
jump in your car and drive to the nearest bookstore.
     This was because in those days, the Net consisted mainly of a series
of government-funded networks on which explicit commercial activity was
forbidden.  Today, much of the Net is run by private companies, which
generally have no such restrictions, and a number of companies have begun
experimenting with online "shops" or other services.  Many of these shops
are run by booksellers, while the services range from delivery of indexed
copies of federal documents to an online newsstand that hopes to entice
you to subscribe to any of several publications (of the printed on paper
variety).  A number of companies also use Usenet newsgroups (in the biz
hierarchy) to distribute press releases and product information.
     Still, commercial activity on the remains far below that found on
other networks, such as CompuServe, with its Electronic Mall, or Prodigy,
with its advertisements on almost every screen.  In part that's because
of the newness and complexity of the Internet as a commercial medium.  In
part, however, that is because of security concerns.  Companies worry
about such issues as crackers getting into their system over the network,
and many people do not like the idea of sending a credit-card number via
the Internet (an e-mail message could be routed through several sites to
get to its destination).  These concerns could disappear as Net users
turn to such means as message encryption and "digital signatures." In the
meantime, however, businesses on the Net can still consider themselves
something of Internet pioneers.
     A couple of public-access sites and a regional network have set up
"marketplaces" for online businesses.
     The World in Brookline, Mass., currently rents "space" to several
bookstores and computer-programming firms, as well as an "adult toy
shop."  To browse their offerings, use gopher to connect to


At the main menu, select "Shops on the World."
     Msen in Ann Arbor provides its "Msen Marketplace," where you'll find
a travel agency and an "Online Career Center" offering help-wanted ads
from across the country.  Msen also provides an "Internet Business
Pages," an online directory of companies seeking to reach the Internet
community.  You can reach Msen through gopher at


At the main menu, select "Msen Marketplace."
     The Nova Scotia Technology Network runs a "Cybermarket" on its
gopher service at


There, you'll find an online bookstore that lets you order books through
e-mail (to which you'll have to trust your credit-card number) and a
similar "virtual record store.'' Both let you search their wares by
keyword or by browsing through catalogs.

     Other online businesses include:

AnyWare Associates      This Boston company runs an Internet-to-fax
                        gateway that lets you send fax message anywhere
                        in the world via the Internet (for a fee, of
                        course).  For more information, write


Bookstacks Unlimited    This Cleveland bookstore offers a keyword-
                        searchable database of thousands of books for
                        sale.  Telnet:


Counterpoint Publishing Based in Cambridge, Mass., this company's main
                        Internet product is indexed versions of federal
                        journals, including the Federal Register (a daily
                        compendium of government contracts, proposed
                        regulations and the like).  Internet users can
                        browse through recent copies, but complete access
                        will run several thousand dollars a year.  Use
                        gopher to connect to


                        and select "Counterpoint Publishing"

Dialog                  The national database company can be reached
                        through telnet at


                        To log on, however, you will have first had to
                        set up a Dialog account.

Dow Jones News          A wire service run by the information company
Retrieval               that owns the Wall Street Journal.  Available
                        via telnet at


                        As with Dialog, you need an account to log on.

Infinity Link           Browse book, music, software, video-cassette and
                        laser-disk catalogs through this system based in
                        Malvern, Penn.  Use gopher to connect to


                        Log on as: cas

The Internet Company    Sort of a service bureau, this company, based in
                        Cambridge, Mass., is working with several publishers
                        on Internet-related products.  Its Electronic
                        Newsstand offers snippets and special
                        subscription rates to a number of national
                        magazines, from the New Republic to the New
                        Yorker.  Use gopher to connect to


MarketBase              You can try the classified-ads system developed
                        by this company in Santa Barbara, Calif., by
                        gopher to connect to


O'Reilly and Associates Best known for its "Nutshell" books on Unix,
                        O'Reilly runs three Internet services.  The gopher
                        server, at


                        provides information about the company and its
                        books.  It posts similar information in the
                        biz.oreilly.announce Usenet newsgroup.  Its
                        Global Network Navigator, accessible through the
                        World-Wide Web, is a sort of online magazine that
                        lets users browse through interesting services
                        and catalogs.