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Secretive seller wows itself

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Amazon.com congratulated itself for a banner holiday shopping season, saying more than 2.8m items were ordered on a single, record-breaking day.

The online seller endured a series of glitches during the main holiday shopping stretch from the end of November to Christmas. Amazon's technology problems, however, did not stop it from moving record amounts of gear with consumer electronics and books driving sales. Amazon reckons that 99 per cent of orders met holiday shipping deadlines.

"We are extremely grateful to our customers," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. "On behalf of Amazon.com employees around the globe, we wish everyone happy holidays and best wishes for the coming year."

Bezos' good cheer is a welcome break to the code of silence that has haunted Amazon during the holiday season. The company repeatedly denied that it was suffering from major technology glitches even though its site was unavailable to users for large periods of time and despite two weeks' worth of snafus on its seller marketplaces.

Amazon could only muster the following canned comment to any reporter that asked about the problems: "We have very sophisticated complex systems that have problems from time to time."

The Register, Reuters, and the New York Times all reported on the ongoing problems affecting Amazon, although the company refused to admit that any such problems existed.

Amazon's secrecy raises some questions around its holiday happiness. In a statement, the retailer celebrated its single day ordering record but made no mention of how many orders were processed over the course of the entire holiday shopping period. Had an entire holiday record been set, you'd think Amazon would be more than happy to tell us about it. Many investors will be watching to see if Amazon's actual results come in as good as the company is making them out to seem.

Some of the big sellers on Amazon included "America (the book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction" by Jon Stewart; "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended Edition;" "Seinfeld" Seasons 1-3; and Ugg boots. Less obvious top picks included nose hair trimmers, the Philips HeartStart Home Defibrillator and Clay Aiken's "Merry Christmas with Love." ®

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