Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Against Amazon

The Internet giant plans to build two distribution centers in Tennessee, and bookstore owners aren’t happy

January 29, 2011 If you buy your books from Amazon.com, you pay no sales tax; if you buy your books from your friendly neighborhood bookseller– or from the nearest mega-Walmart– you do. That’s because Amazon is a web-only retailer without a physical presence in the state. But if the Internet behemoth opens two massive distributions centers in East Tennessee as planned, it will have one. Nevertheless, Tennessee lawmakers have no plans to require Amazon, which will bring up to 2,000 much-needed jobs to the state, to charge sales tax on books ordered by Tennesseans. Unsurprisingly, local bookstore owners– who are obligated to charge sales tax even on Internet orders– are gearing up for a fight:

“If you buy a book from them, and they don’t have to charge (nearly a) 10 percent sales tax, that amounts to a government subsidy of our competitors,” Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, told The Tennessean. “I understand the economic development argument, and certainly Tennessee ought to do what it can to get jobs, but what about the retailers in Tennessee and all the folks they employ?” Read the full story here.