March 17, 2010

Amazon: 46 states to go


The default mode at — bullying — seems to be as jammed as the accelerator in a Toyota. In just the last few weeks alone …

  • MobyLives ran the story about Amazon pulling buy buttons from all Macmillan/FSG/St. Martin’s/Tor/Holt books as a way of, er, negotiating a pricing agreement …
  • This was followed by the story that Amazon was pressuring publishers for “favored nation status” (lowest pricing promises) over any pricing agreements with other ebook retailers …
  • Which was follwed by the story about them pulling buy buttons over a disagreement with book distributor Diamond
  • Which was followed — just yesterday — by the story about Amazon severing its relationships with business affiliates in Colorado because the state voted to require Amazon to collect sales taxes on things it sells in Colorado just like every other business in Colorado does

Now, the lovable huggy bear from Seattle has issued a threat to its associates in Connecticut that it will do the same thing to them that it did to its affiliates in Colorado if Connecticut legislators pass a pending sales tax measure there, too.

Keith M. Phaneuf reports in this Connecticut Mirror story that “nearly 2,000 Connecticut businesses – mostly small
operations – would be targeted” as a result of what Amazon has “threatened.” Phaneuf writes:

“If Connecticut were to enact RB 5481,
Amazon and presumably dozens of other out-of-state retailers would
simply sever affiliate advertising relationships with Connecticut
residents,” Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public
policy, wrote in testimony submitted to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

Misener, who did not appear in person at Monday’s committee hearing,
added that residents of other states that haven’t enacted similar
measures “could still participate in the affiliates’ program and earn
referral fees in part on retailers’ sales to Connecticut consumers.”

So far, Amazon has cut off relations with affiliates in North Carolina, Rhode Island, and now Colorado. A similar law passed in New York is now tied up in a legal challenge — brought on by Amazon.

Meanwhile, of course, Misener “did not return a telephone call seeking comment.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives