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)



TVA Inspector General Resigns To Be U.S. Attorney For Southern District Of Alabama

The TVA Inspector General, Richard W. Moore, was confirmed by the United States Senate on Sept. 14, as the new U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama after having been nominated by President Donald J. Trump in June of this year. Mr. Moore submitted his resignation letter as Inspector General to President Trump effective the date of his appointment as the ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Chamber Calendar For Sept. 25-29

Here is the calendar for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce for Sept. 25-29: Tuesday, Sept. 26, Government Contracting: Managing the Maze to Get the Contract 9-11:30 a.m. BrightBridge Women’s Business Center: 535 Chestnut St., Ste. 161 Are you ready for government contracting? How to sell your products and services to federal, state and/or local governments. How to register ... (click for more)

School Board Approves "Partnership" With State As "Lesser Of 2 Evils"

The County School Board on Thursday night voted 7-2 to join in talks with the State Department of Education leading to a Partnership Zone for five low-performing schools. Joe Smith and David Testerman voted against the plan. Other board members said the only alternative was for the state to take over several low-performing schools under the Achievement School District in which ... (click for more)

Investors Who Lost In Dyer/Brennan Scheme Furious At Seeing Dyer At UTC Games; Attorney Says He Takes Disabled Brother To Work Games

Two victims in an investment scheme by Doug Dyer and James Brennan said they were furious to see Dyer continuing to attend UTC sporting events. Dyer is a past president of the Mocs' Quarterback Club. In two victim letters prior to the Dyer/Brennan sentencing next Friday - from Mickey McCamish and Mark E. Smith, they state that Dyer bought season tickets to UTC football and has ... (click for more)

September Is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

The calendar fills up quickly in September as families return to a packed routine after quieter summer days. Unfortunately, your health might take a backseat to your busy schedule. So make a note on your calendar that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and remind yourself—or the men in your life—about the importance of a healthy prostate.   Prostate cancer is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: I Am Very Privileged

A California professor who teaches sociology at San Diego State told her students she would give each extra credit if they would participate in a “White Privilege Checklist” the other day. Understand, there is no pass or fail but, the more of the 20 statements you agree with, reveals you are “more guilty” of being white and therefore more “privileged” than those who are not. ... (click for more)