Giant Purple Gorilla Swings into E-Commerce Jungle

What a giant 40-foot purple gorilla has to do with magazines remains to be seen, but the name of a new online magazine subscription service is at least memorable for those who grew up watching cartoons in the ’70s., named for the aforementioned giant gorilla of Hanna Barbera’s cartoon library, launched an online news stand this week with more than 1,400 magazine titles., a private company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, estimates consumers spend more than $12 billion (US$) per year on magazines. The new site enables magazine buyers to order magazines, track each of their subscriptions, renew orders and send magazine subscriptions as gifts. reminds customers by e-mail when their subscriptions are due for renewal, and it will hunt down back issues upon request.

Plenty of Competition

“Through the Internet, can meet or beat any other subscription rate available, on or off line,” Founder and CEO Dan Engel says. However, that may be a tall order for an upstart trying to compete with several dozen other online magazine subscription services, including Electronic Newsstand, a well-known site with 600 titles.

In addition to offering 42 categories and more than twice as many titles as Enews, GrapeApe hopes to distinguish itself with a couple of special features. GrapeApe offers a corporate plan to facilitate fulfillment and management of subscriptions for corporations, large organizations and institutions. The program offers packages of thematically grouped magazines for different types of companies and organizations. In addition, GrapeApe’s Virtual Community feature encourages readers to vote on and rate various magazines, to help other visitors make more educated purchase decisions.

Affiliate Funds Too

With the help of beFree! Inc., GrapeApe offers an affiliate program for other Web sites to earn up to 15 percent commissions on magazine sales to customers referred to the site. Until August 3, GrapeApe will double the standard commission to 30 percent.

GrapeApe will get an additional marketing boost from a new Web site beFree! launched Wednesday to aggregate in one place information on all of the affiliate sales programs beFree! has designed for others. provides a place for individuals and businesses to find revenue-sharing opportunities on the Web through more than 1,000 “affiliate recruiters” that put together partnerships between Web sites.

AffiliateRecruiters offers people an opportunity to “earn substantial bounties by guiding other site administrators to join the affiliate sales channels of leading web merchants such as, Travelocity, Staples, and Value America,” according to the site.

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