ABA: Hachette/Amazon feud an opportunity

ABA: Hachette/Amazon feud an opportunity

Leaders of the American Booksellers Association board urged their members to capitalise on the ongoing Hachette Book Group and Amazon US dispute by driving in-store sales of Hachette titles and educate their communities about the benefits of shopping at bricks and mortar bookshops.

Speaking at yesterday's (29th May) Book Expo America ABA Town Hall - a Q&A between booksellers and the ABA board - Steve Bercu, ABA president and owner of BookPeople in Austin Texas, said: "As [the Hachette/Amazon dispute] goes on, it is in the interest to go out in the community, go out to your local media to educate people why we are the best place to buy their books."

Betsy Burton, ABA vice president and owner of The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, suggested booksellers use the unavailability on Amazon of the upcoming JK Rowling Robert Galbraith title The Silkworm to their benefit. She said: "It is the perfect opportunity to remind readers that we are the place to come and get your books and to challenge the notion that if Amazon is not selling a book, that it isn't available."

ABA c.e.o. Oren Teicher added that the trade body was in discussion with Hachette "as recently as a few hours ago" to create bespoke point of sale for ABA members about Hachette titles that are unavailable at Amazon.

Amazon was a frequent issue in the wide-ranging Q&A, which covered many of the ABA's lobbying efforts. Teicher was not optimistic that "this do-nothing Congress" would pass the Marketplace Fairness Act - which is designed to ensure online retailers charge state sales taxes, which many have been heretofore avoiding - before January 2015 when the bill will expire. Teicher said: "The door is not slammed but it is closing. This has been a real frustration that after it went through the Senate that it has  stalled in the House of Representatives."

However, Teicher added that online sales tax bills have been passed in 22 of the 50 states. "While we will keep the heat on Congress and we firmly believe that a [nationwide] law is the answer, we will step up our lobbying on the state legislatures where we are seeing progress."

The ABA board said it will look at the success of the recent California Bookstore Day - which was based on the Record Store Day promotions - to see if it can be rolled out nationwide.  It is also ramping up its lobbying against Amazon's deal with the US Postal Service to have Sunday deliveries in some states.