Care for a Hatchback With That Paperback?

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Coming next to Amazon... hair shirts! Don't laugh, because company founder Jeff Bezos might hear you and decide that self-flagellation devices are just what the mega-site needs to really corner the market on, well, everything. As if books, pharmacy items, kitchen gadgets, garden tools, auctions and music weren't enough, the company announced Tuesday that it is ready to launch a new page in its storied e-commerce history: Cars.

That's right — come on down! Beginning later this week, thanks to a fledgling partnership with online car dealer, Amazon will offer customers the dizzying possibility of picking up the latest Harry Potter while simultaneously treating themselves to a brand-new Volkswagen. What would Henry Ford say?

The flesh-and-blood car salesman, once relegated to bunting-bedecked corner lots, continues to face stiff competition from his digital counterparts. And although some online car dealerships (like, which discontinued its web retail presence) can't quite get a handle on the new medium, analysts predict can only benefit from its association with Amazon, which with some 23 million customers counts itself among the most recognizable and popular sites on the Internet. Those benefits may come sooner than anyone expected: Moments after the alliance was announced, was flooded by calls from enthusiastic investors. Sometimes it pays to play with the big boys.