Our read on Amazon vs. Wal-Mart: Books matter less and less

When Amazon (AMZN) locked horns with Wal-Mart (WMT) in a price war over books, pundits worried the online retailer would get seriously bloodied by doing battle with the deep-pocketed retail giant. Amazon is, after all, first and foremost a bookseller. Any frontal assault on its book-selling niche would do serious balance-sheet damage, the theory went.

I knew this theory was wrong from personal experience. Amazon's blowout quarterly numbers and impressive forward-sales guidance, reported on Thursday, validated my belief. On the earnings calls, Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak told analysts that much of Amazon's growth was coming from electronics and general merchandise. That mirrors the spending trends in my own home. In the past month alone, a significant portion of our offline spending went online to Amazon.