Amazon.com let shoppers yesterday download exclusive short works from best-selling authors including Danielle Steel, creating a new digital...

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Amazon.com let shoppers yesterday download exclusive short works from best-selling authors including Danielle Steel, creating a new digital marketplace for literature.

The works include novellas and will be sold for 49 cents.

Amazon.com is making a push into digital downloads of text and may soon enter the market for music downloads as it expands its business. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has stepped up hiring of software developers and marketers for the programs that come as sales growth slows for the 10-year-old retailer.

The company is “blazing brand new ground here,” said Jean Bedord, a Cupertino, Calif.-based analyst for Shore Communications. “What they are testing is low-cost digital downloads.”

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The offering may prove to be a boon to authors and publishers, with links to information about the writers and their publications for sale on the site, Bedord said.

The site debuted with 64 works from 59 authors, including Ann Beattie and James Lee Burke. The company is in talks with more writers to add essays, unpublished book chapters and commentaries.