Obama And The Booksellers

Thursday, August 1, 2013 - by Phil Wade

Last week, Overstock.com lowered its prices on books also sold by Amazon.com, boasting discounts 10% lower than Amazon on over 350,000 titles,reports Shelf Awareness.com. Apparently in response,  Amazon lowered it's prices to 50-60 percent off retail on bestsellers, a move offline booksellers are calling a new low in Amazon's price war with them.

Adding fuel to this long-burning fire, President Obama spoke at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bonny Oaks this week, promoting his ideas for job growth and "a better bargain for the middle class.”

“That's why I'm visiting cities and towns like this,” Mr. Obama said, “to lay out my ideas for how we can build on the cornerstone of what it means to be middle class in America: a good job with good wages, a good education, a home to call your own, affordable health care that's there for you when you get sick, a secure retirement even if you're not rich, more chances for folks to earn their way into the middle class as long as they're willing to work for it.”

Making such a speech at Amazon didn’t encourage some booksellers, who have supported the president in other ways. American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher wrote an open letter criticizing Mr. Obama’s venue.  “The simple fact is that Amazon’s practices are detrimental to the nation’s economy,” he said. Teicher wrote the letter along with the ALA board of directors.“As (Mr. Obama has) noted so often, small businesses are the engines of the economy,” he wrote. “When a small business fails and closes its doors, this has a ripple effect at both a local and a national level.” Jobs added at large corporations like Amazon, they said, are often part-time and not equivalent to the jobs lost at small businesses.

How do local bookstore owners feel about Amazon’s competition? Most booksellers in our area, like the popular McKay Used Books and CDs, selling after-market products. Stores like Lifeway and Barnes & Noble, both at Hamilton Place, are part of large corporations able to compete at a more direct level than an independent store could.

Paul Mann, owner of The Book Gallery, doesn’t see direct competition from Amazon either. Being an overstock resellers, his stores sell a variety of hardbacks for $3.99 and paperbacks for $2.99, prices much cheaper than Amazon.

“One of the biggest issues,” Mr. Mann said, “is the 9.25% sales tax. That’s an ongoing competitive disadvantage for us. If I don’t pay my sale taxes, they come and shutter my store.” Mann owns stores in Dalton, Cleveland, and Lebanon.

Charles Wood of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce said with our city being on the state line, “you can drive into Georgia to pay less in sales tax.” So the success of online booksellers like Amazon may be “a matter of convenience” for shoppers.

 

(Phil Wade is a local writer and native Chattanoogan. Find him on Twitter:@Brandywinebooks or at Brandywinebooks.net)



Tennessee Unemployment Holds Steady For 3rd Consecutive Month

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today released the statewide unemployment rate for July 2018, and for the third consecutive month the statistic has remained at a historically low 3.5 percent.   Tennessee’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has not only remained unchanged since May, ... (click for more)

53 Miller & Martin Attorneys Listed In The Best Lawyers In America 2019 Edition

The law firm of Miller & Martin announced 53 of its attorneys have been selected by  Best Lawyers  for inclusion in  The Best Lawyers in America  2019 edition. Additionally, seven of the firm’s attorneys in the Chattanooga metro area were selected as "Lawyer of the Year" for their respective disciplines. Only a single lawyer in each specialty, within a ... (click for more)

Price Has Risen To $143 Million For State's Most Expensive Road Project - Downtown Chattanooga Freeway

The cost of Chattanooga's downtown freeway makeover - estimated at $85 million in 2006 and bid at $126.3 million when it got underway in November 2015 - has climbed to $143 million as issues were encountered along the way, TDOT's Ken Flynn said Monday. The Highway 27 project to provide three lanes in each direction from the I-24 split to the river was already the most expensive ... (click for more)

Signal Mayor Chris Howley Not Running Again; Man Suing Town To Be On Ballot For Council

Signal Mountain Mayor Chris Howley has decided not to seek re-election. He had until noon today to return the petition that he picked up earlier. Rick Saputa, who is suing the city but also picked up a petition for the council, did qualify just before the deadline. Others running for the Town Council include former Mayor Bill Lusk, Councilman Dan Landrum and new-comers ... (click for more)

Jeff Styles, I Believe You - And Response (5)

I am glad that Jeff Styles presented the details of the event on his website.  Just because the government alleges a crime does not mean guilty. A criminal charge is an allegation by government. Sure, that allegation can be very serious, but the charge is still an unproven allegation until a court of law and Lady Justice has her review of the proof.  A person gets ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Trump’s Editorial Coup

I got a great laugh when I heard a consortium of “the greatest newspapers in the world” would band together – as one mighty voice – and collectively castigate President Trump for his repeated attacks on newspapers, their editors and their reporters. “Our words will differ,” said Marjorie Pritchard of the Boston Globe, who called for the group-fest, “but we can agree that such attacks ... (click for more)