Open letter from the ABA to Amazon: See you on Main Street

by Cinda Baxter on December 13, 2011

in internet, Marketing, Pricing, Promotions, Real World

An enthusiastic thumbs up to Oren Teicher (CEO, American Booksellers Association) for posting the following open letter to Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon):

Dear Jeff Bezos,

We’re not shocked, just disappointed.

Despite your company’s recent pledge to be a better corporate citizen and to obey the law and collect sales tax, you created a price-check app that allows shoppers to browse Main Street stores that do collect sales tax, scan a product, ask for expertise, and walk out empty-handed in order to buy on Amazon. We suppose we should be flattered that an online sales behemoth needs a Main Street retail showroom.

Forgive us if we’re not. 

We could call your $5 bounty to app-users a cheesy marketing move and leave it at that. In fact, it is the latest in a series of steps to expand your market at the expense of cities and towns nationwide, stripping them of their unique character and the financial wherewithal to pay for essential needs like schools, fire and police departments, and libraries.

But maybe we’ve misunderstood.

Click image above to download PDF copy

Even though you’ve spent millions on lobbyists, fired affiliates in seven states, and threatened to shut warehouses to avoid collecting sales tax, maybe you really mean it now when you say you support a level playing field.

It’s up to you to show us.

In the meantime, indie retailers remain the heart of countless communities — offering discovery, energy, support, and unique experiences. See you on Main Street.


Oren Teicher, CEO
American Booksellers Association

On behalf of The 3/50 Project and independent brick and mortar merchants everywhere, thank you, Oren. Big time.

Heather Somers December 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Bezos should be foced to make all of his purchases online and hav them shipped to his house. He should not be allowed in a bricks and mortar store. See how he survives when he as to buy bread and milk that way and has to wait 3 days for it to ship after having spent weeks at sea from China (and the milk probably has melamine in it!). Where does he think his neighbors work??

Holly Bretschneider December 14, 2011 at 7:01 am

Fantastic letter ~ kudos to Mr. Teicher. Behavior like this has already begun to turn retail storefronts into expensive, unsustainable showrooms. The showroom model of retailing works when a large manufacturer or chain store pays for the beautiful store, products on the shelves, and expert staff to provide service to its customers, allowing those customers to pay for the products at other locations or online. That model breaks down quickly, however, when a consumer enjoys the benefits of the showroom but pays nothing to the showroom owner, purchasing from an entirely different business who provides nothing more than warehouse space and fulfillment. This trend is becoming insidious and the fact that Amazon is brazenly encouraging it is despicable.

Jack McCullough January 2, 2012 at 3:12 am

I would love to have seen a few million signatures added to that letter. This kind of corporate greed is one of the pivotal issues behind the Occupy Movement, and it warms the hearts of many to read Mr. Teicher’s letter. I take no small pleasure in perusing Amazon for new book titles (although I am sure there are other resources), taking the ISBN number and walking, not driving to my local bookstore and ordering the titles. Keeps my local streetscape of a human scale, gets me some healthy exercise and boosts the economy of my community. Priceless.
The latest title I purchased? The Trouble With Billionaires by Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks. ISBN-13 978-0670064199.
I hope Jeff Bezos reads it.

Cinda Baxter January 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm

One thing we do need to be careful about is the amount of free publicity we’re giving Amazon by arguing the point so publicly. Please see my more recent post titled “Jeff Bezos is an Evil Genius:”

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: