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Customers Rule!, by Roger Blackwell and Kristina Stephan, is a back-to-earth management guide for the 21st century that emphasises traditional business strategies incorporated with--but never overshadowed by--the Internet. Blackwell, an Ohio State University marketing professor, and Stephan, vice president of a consulting firm that bears her coauthor's name, note that even after the dot-com shake-out many firms still place too much emphasis on the "e" side of e-commerce and give short shrift to basics that connect them with consumers and suppliers. Dissecting companies that failed because of this (like Boo.com, the erstwhile sportswear e-tailer), along with those appearing to prosper by recognising it, the authors emphasise that "business fundamentals, such as adding value for customers, establishing vendor relationships, controlling costs and conserving cash" remain the key to success. They discuss specifics that combine Old and New Economy ideas in original ways, such as using omnipresent bricks-and-mortar establishments such as Kinko's for third-party distribution of online orders. No matter the business, the authors contend, the optimal result is a "blended strategy" that enhances customer and supply-chain relationships, decreases inventory and expenses, increases efficiencies and reaches new customers. Their book proposes concrete methods for combining time-honoured tactics with today's technology to do just that. --Howard Rothman [via]