Booksellers fighting Amazon's Canadian bid
Tue Mar 9, 2010
By Etan Vlessing
TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Fearing an apparent assault by Amazon.com on Canadian culture, the Canadian Booksellers Association is urging the federal government to block the U.S. Internet retailer from establishing a physical presence north of the border.
Amazon.com has applied to the Heritage department for permission to establish its own fulfillment business here after using Canada Post for product delivery since 2002 to serve a Canadian version of its U.S. website, Amazon.ca.
But the local booksellers told Ottawa that allowing Amazon to operate on Canadian soil would contravene the Investment Canada Act, which requires book publishing and other cultural industries to comply with national cultural policies and benefit the Canadian economy.
"Individual Canadian booksellers have traditionally played a key role in ensuring the promotion of Canadian authors and Canadian culture. These are values that no American dot.com retailer could ever purport to understand or promote," CBA president Stephen Cribar said in a March 8 letter to federal Heritage minister James Moore.
Cribar urged Moore to place "reasonable limits on American domination of our book market" and to reject Amazon.com's current application.
Ottawa in 2002 ruled that the Investment Canada Act did not apply to Amazon.com, despite existing laws aiming at protecting the Canadian book industry from foreign competition, as long as it operated without a physical presence in the country.
The latest Amazon.com application has placed Ottawa in a bind as its cultural protectionist policies paradoxically allow the U.S. Internet retailer to freely sell books, e-books and other digital products to Canadians, as long as it (Amazon) does not establish offices or warehouses north of the border.
Allowing Amazon.com to establish a new business in Canada, while opposed by local booksellers, would enable Ottawa to place conditions on the U.S. online retailer's business here. Ottawa will rule on the Amazon.com application in the coming months.
CBA Urges Canadian Heritage to Reject Amazon.com’s Application to Establish a New Business in Canada.
Canadian Booksellers Association (CBA) has written to the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, asking his government to reject Amazon.com’s application to establish a new cultural business in Canada. Copies of CBA’s letter have also been sent to the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada and the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry.
CBA contends that allowing Amazon to operate a business within Canada would contravene the Investment Canada Act which requires that foreign investments in the book publishing and distribution sector be compatible with national cultural policies and be of net benefit to Canada and the Canadian-controlled sector.
CBA President Stephen Cribar argues that Amazon’s entry into Canada would detrimentally affect the country’s independent businesses and cultural industries: “Individual Canadian booksellers have traditionally played a key role in ensuring the promotion of Canadian authors and Canadian culture. These are values that no American dot.com retailer could ever purport to understand or promote.”
CBA urges the Canadian government and the Department of Canadian Heritage to continue its support of our unique cultural perspective by placing reasonable limits on American domination of our book market and rejecting Amazon.com’s current application.