Amazon.com

American Booksellers Association's New E-Fairness Action Kit Launches

Do you think Amazon.com and other internet-only businesses have a right to sell product without collecting sales tax when brick & mortar businesses have been collecting and sending in taxes for years?

If so...skip to the next story...or add your comment below.

E-FACT provides independent businesses and booksellers in particular in the 42 states that collect sales tax but do not have e-fairness legislation state-specific templates to their state legislators and Governor calling for e-fairness. Businesses can simply go to E-FACT and navigate to their state, where they will find the relevant documents that can be adapted and then e-mailed to the appropriate person. We plan for E-FACT to grow over the next few weeks to include op-ed pieces, FAQs, relevant articles, and practical suggestions for advocating on behalf of e-fairness.

Amazon Super-Sale on Comic Hardcovers: The Aftermath

On Sunday, March 7, U.S. customers woke up to discover that a huge number of normally expensive hardcover comics were available from Amazon.com for $14.99 apiece. Later in the day, some were discounted even further, to $8.24. Since these books included the Marvel Omnibus line, which normally is cover-priced at $100, lots of people jumped on the bandwagon and ordered wildly. Other affected publishers were IDW, Dark Horse, and Image, both preorders and current releases. As Bully points out, all of the publishers whose works were included were distributed by Diamond Book Distributors, which suggests a massive automated data glitch of some kind.

Full blog entry here.

Amazon's Troubling Trifecta

(corrected from an earlier edition) The Canadian Booksellers Association has demanded that the Canadian government reject Amazon.com's application to open a facility in Canada, according to Quill & Quire.

From Shelf-Awareness:

In a statement, CBA said that "allowing Amazon to operate a business within Canada would contravene the Investment Canada Act which requires that foreign investments in the book publishing and distribution sector be compatible with national cultural policies and be of net benefit to Canada and the Canadian-controlled sector."

And CBA president Stephen Cribar added, "Individual Canadian booksellers have traditionally played a key role in ensuring the promotion of Canadian authors and Canadian culture. These are values that no American dot.com retailer could ever purport to understand or promote."

Amazon applied early this year to Canada's heritage ministry for permission to open an operation in Canada; it could take 45 days for the ministry to make a ruling (Shelf Awareness, March 3, 2010).

The story also mentions Amazon's dropping it's Colorado affiliates, as reported yesterday in LISNews, and a pricing error earlier this week that allowed a lot of inventory to be sold for overly discounted prices.

Amazon Fires Its Colorado Associates

This article in O'Reilly Radar asks the hypothetical question: When all of the states have passed e-fairness laws, who will be left for Amazon to fire?

O Canada! Amazon seeks permission to open a 'new Canadian business'

Amazon is seeking to set up a physical base in Canada, The Bookseller has revealed, and has applied to the government to open a a "new Canadian business".

The move could lead to a huge shake-up of Canada's book trade. Amazon.com does not have a physical operation in the country, but sells books through its domain Amazon.ca. Moving into the country would mean the company could ship to Canadian consumers more quickly and cost-effectively. But to operate there, Amazon must receive permission from Canada's heritage ministry.

The application is subject to a confidential inquiry by the Canadian government, which will assess whether it breaks Canada's tough cultural protection rules, which are designed to prevent American influences from overpowering Canada's culture.

The move could prove to be a boon to Canadian publishers, but it would also hit the country's retailers. Dominant Canadian bookseller Indigo declined to comment.

Amazon launched its Canadian site in June 2002, amid protests from Canadian booksellers who argued that the online store violated regulations that prohibit foreign ownership. The Canadian government ruled that this was not the case since Amazon.com did not have a physical business in the country.

Story from Bookseller UK.

Concern at Amazon as iPad is Announced

On Jan. 27, Steven P. Jobs was still standing on a stage in San Francisco, presenting Apple’s new iPad, when the phones started ringing. Senior managers from Amazon.com were calling newspaper, magazine and book publishers trying to glean any information possible about the deals Apple was offering them to supply content for its new reading device.

Amazon, which pioneered the e-reader category with its Kindle devices, is determined not to be out-priced by Apple or any other rival.

Since December, Amazon has been pushing publishers to sign a new round of legal agreements that would guarantee that the Kindle price for their content is always the same or lower than the price on other electronic reading devices, such as the iPad or the Sony Reader. The clause, a variation of a legal concept known as “most favored nation,” would guarantee that Amazon’s customers would always get the best price for electronic versions of magazines, newspapers and books.
NYTimes Bits.

Leveling the Playing Field for Booksellers

Things are heating up for Amazon.com on the sales tax front again. The California Senate just passed a bill that would require online retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax on web purchases. According to reports, the measure was part of a $5 billion budget package making its way through the California legislature. Virginia, Colorado and Illinois are also considering sales tax bills targeting online retailers.

Amazon — which only collects sales tax in a handful of states, giving it an advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers — fought hard against a similar wave of bills last year, and managed to stomp out most of them. But for cash-strapped states, desperately seeking new sources of revenue, the "Amazon tax" continues to be a powerful draw.

California lawmakers introduced a similar bill last year, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to veto it, and the matter was dropped. But with California in the midst of a budgetary meltdown, the idea has popped up again. According to reports, the "Amazon tax" bill is expected to generate $107 million in tax revenue annually for California.

The measure has yet to be signed by the Governor, but with California in fiscal crisis, he may just sign the bill this time.

Amazon gives the self-published a second life

After Zetta Elliott couldn't interest publishers in her novel about a black-Latina teen who travels back in time to Civil War-era Brooklyn, she joined a growing number of writers and paid to publish it herself in 2008.
A Wish After Midnight sold about 500 copies — nearly covering her expenses, she says. More important, she says, her teen novel was praised on blogs and used in schools and libraries.

But when an editor from Amazon, the online retailer, called last year offering to publish it, Elliott says, "I thought it was a hoax."

It wasn't. This month, her novel, along with Daniel Annechino's They Never Die Quietly and Maria Murname's Perfect on Paper, will be released as AmazonEncore paperbacks, e-books and audios.

More at USA Today

Macmillan v. Amazon Redux

Andrew Zack weighs in on the Macmillian/Amazon battle in the Huffington Post:

Macmillan wants to change the way it sells eBooks via Amazon and other eTailers (You get it? Retailers online=eTailers). Amazon didn't like the plan, so it pulled the "buy" button from all Macmillan titles on its website. Imagine this in a grocery store and either Coke or Frito Lay ran into the same situation. Shelves and shelves full of bottles or chips and people aren't allowed to buy them. Get it? Okay.

Even Amazon admits it must "capitulate" to big, bad Macmillan. Not that they call Macmillan "big" or "bad," but that's the underlying message. But the irony is that Amazon will make more money under the new structure, because it has been selling eBooks as loss leaders to promote sales of the Kindle. But with the iPad out from Apple, there's only one thing to say, "Be scared Jeff [as in Bezos]. Be very scared."

Amazon's Overblown E-Book Tussle

AMAZON.COM (TICKER: AMZN) shares are down 6% since Macmillan announced that it was switching from a wholesale pricing model to an agency pricing model (the agency model prevents Amazon from discounting e-book titles). We believe concerns over the impact of the potential change in e-book pricing and Apple's (AAPL) iPad launch have been overblown.

Even if all of the publishers move to the agency model, which is unlikely, we still expect Amazon to capture a large share of the e-book market. We also expect physical book sales, in which Amazon has a leading market position, to significantly exceed digital book sales for at least the next five years. In addition, the iPad costs two to three times more than the Kindle, and its liquid crystal display screen provides an inferior book-reading experience. Finally, we expect nonmedia sales to be the most important driver of Amazon's growth.

Story at Barron's

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