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)



Healthcare Technology Firm Opens In Ooltewah

Local entrepreneur Ken Lowden has chosen Cambridge Square to launch his innovative healthcare technology and patient care company, MedX Services. MedX Services is a total medicine management company that was founded in January of 2018.  The service offers real time medicine adherence monitoring paired with a pharmacy home dispensing and concierge service. Initially, MedX ... (click for more)

Miller & Martin Attorney Doug Johnson Elected President Of U.S. Section Of FICPI

Miller & Martin announced Douglas Johnson, Of Counsel in the firm’s Intellectual Property group, was elected president of the U.S. Section of the Fedération Internationalé des Conseils en Propriété Industrielle. His term will run through June 2020. Mr. Johnson is assuming the duties from President Andrew D. Meikle of Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch, LLP, whose term ends ... (click for more)

Voters May Decide In November On Whether To Eliminate City Court; Paving Fund Also Considered

Chattanooga voters in November may get to vote on whether City Court should be abolished. City Council members indicated during budget talks on Tuesday that may be an upcoming referendum question. Councilman Jerry Mitchell said he, for one, "would vote to eliminate it." However, he said the court would apparently run through 2021 when the eight-year terms of Judges Sherry ... (click for more)

Alexander Calls For Immediate End To Separation Of Families At Border

United States Senator Lamar Alexander Tuesday released the following statement on the separation of children from their parents at the border:  “Illegal immigration is against the law but new enforcement policies have resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents. The administration should end that new policy immediately while Congress works with the ... (click for more)

Never Replacing Claude Ramsey But Following His Example

When Claude made his decision not to seek reelection as the 26th District state representative I made my intention known to seek the office following him.  Immediately opponents from both parties began to qualify for that opportunity.  With Bill Bennett as my campaign manager and many of Claude’s supporters going door to door into the community, as Claude had done in his ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Participation Trophies

You may remember several years back when James Harrison, a linebacker for the Steelers at the time, came home to discover his two sons, who were then ages 8 and 6, had received “participation trophies” on a sports team. Harrison, who earned his way into the NFL (he was not drafted out of Kent State yet played in five Pro Bowls), promptly loaded his sons and the bogus trophies in ... (click for more)