Unwilling To Compete, Canadian Booksellers Association Tries To Block Amazon Distribution Center

from the competition-north-of-the-border dept

jprlk was the first of a few of you to send in the news that the Canadian Booksellers' Association is apparently so afraid of competition from Amazon, that it's asking the government to block the company from building a distribution center north of the border. Apparently, they're relying on some ridiculous rules about "foreign ownership," which is really an excuse to screw Canadian citizens by making things more expensive by limiting competition. The "moral" claim (one we've heard before in other contexts) is that Amazon shouldn't be allowed in Canada because it "won't promote Canadian authors" enough. Of course, the real reason they're afraid is that Amazon will likely be cheaper, which would actually benefit Canadian citizens and authors, by making it easier and cheaper to buy the books of those Canadian authors.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Seshan (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:06am

    You mean they don't have any distribution centers here already? When I order something I get it in like 3 days :|

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:31am


    In today's world, couldn't getting in 3 days be like express from Moscow? (4 days on express from Botswana?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Pixelation, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    It's Canada, who cares.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:50am


    Perhaps people that live in Canada care? You must be one of those educated world travellers that understand there are many countries in the world, not just the one you live in. Oh wait....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Known Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:54am

    Unwilling To Compete

    might work as well as requiring radio stations to play x number of canadian songs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Pixelation, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:11am


    I was teasing. I love Canada. Mosquitoes, deer flies and Northern pike.

    I would have used a sarc mark, but didn't want to infringe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Jake, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:14am

    Easily Fixed

    Amazon could promote Canadian authors in Canada if they really wanted to, or even localise it further and showcase authors, musicians and independent filmmakers from the county you live in. High-street book and record shops do that kind of thing quite often.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    hasn't affected my bittorrent downloads yet

    ha try n stop me

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    dan, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re:

    The original rebuttal poster is to fucking stupid to recognize sarcasm, don't worry about it. Just a fucking idiot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:41am


    Ok, you're forgiven. I'll drink a beer in your honour this evening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Doesn't Canada already have rules for "Canadian" content on TV? I suppose the logical conclusion is to have Canadian supremacy over foreign works in all media.

    I can't believe I wrote Canadian supremacy...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Brendan (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 11:01am


    They definitely ship from the GTA for Canadian orders (at least when I get them, they do).

    Not sure what they call the facility though, and how "distribution center" would be different.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    NotFromToronto (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    I believe this move is primarily to prevent a perceived weakening of the existing ownership laws.

    The battle with Amazon is already over, it was fought in 2002, and booksellers (read: Chapters/Indigo/Quebecor) lost. Amazon is already considerably undercutting the prices you pay in the brick & mortar stores in Canada. A distribution center in no way changes things.

    What it does do if it's allowed to proceed, is give Barnes & Noble a place to point and say: Well what about Amazon? They have a brick & mortar presence, so why can't we?

    The Canadian book stores are only alive because of the lingering brick & mortar loyalty. They wouldn't be able to compete if there were US based brick & mortar operations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    jprlk, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 11:16am

    from the article:

    "Amazon now uses Canada Post to fill Canadian orders from its U.S. hub."

    and yes, canadian supremacy is a key component to our (yes, i'm from the land of the peacekeepers) screwing with our own people, to extract more money out of our pockets in order for the money to flow to a few key m/b-illionnaires.

    true patriot love = pretend xenophobia for $$

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Kevin, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Border Crossings

    Odds are Canadian orders are shipped from Buffalo/Fort Erie across the border.

    I always find it amusing when Americans complain about another country trying to protect jobs. Can you say "Softwood Lumber"!

    In Canada we are already losing smaller Brick and Mortars to online both in Canada and from the US. Add in a biggie like Amazon and that means lots of job losses that would not be gained at the distribution centers.

    How many of you have ever gone to brick and mortar to check out a product and then purchased online? After a while there will be fewer and fewer brick and mortar stores.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Jake, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 11:22am


    They offer massive tax incentives to shoot films and TV shows in Canada, which is presumably a loophole. I suppose it evens out.

    Besides, if you're only allowed to source 10% of your programming from overseas, all the more reason to make it the 10% that Theodore Sturgeon had his revelation about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    John A MacDonald, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 11:51am

    Pixelton Who Doesn't Care

    Hey Pixelton, are you from that broke and failing country that is only the second largest in North America?

    I'm not, and we don't care about you either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Luci, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 5:14pm

    Re: Border Crossings

    Good! B&M stores tend not to /want/ to compete. Why should I pay their overhead? And yes, I know there are jobs involved. You think that one store closing means all those people are out of work? What about the jobs created when a center like this opens? Or are we ignoring that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    mertz, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:13pm

    i was trying to order something from amazon uk because i can't get it from amazon canada or amazon.com obviously and eventually i didn't get the book because by the time it comes here it'll be available at chapters and i can either it from chapters online or go to a store for less money (recession cut backs). the guy who talked about chapters indigo being afraid about losing more money is right because people don't buy books in canada. we do buy books and go to the library and order online and we read a lot, but if amazon was able to set up a distributer anywhere in canada or in ontario mostly (where most of the market is anyways), not only will chapters lose money, and not only will people lose their jobs, but chapters will go the way of some of the bookstores out west and some have already in ontario (don't know how the lit is faring in quebec or on the far east coast). i really don't want to agree with chapters indigo and they are doing this out of fear but i don't know if i can actually support amazon, even though i am younger bookophile and inherintly cheap as hell. chapters/indigo/coles is already cheap and they reduce their prices accordingly and their service isn't bad at all, so as much as i would love for amazon to set up a distro or something in windsor, i'm moreso thinking what the hell because for sure chapters will suffer, people will lose their jobs (we don't need any more cut backs cause they have already cut back so much), and local stores will close down. maybe what chapters needs to do is go the amazon route and completely go online. maybe. more canadians spend time online than they do actually living their real live in their communities anyways so maybe if amazon came it would change things.

    also amazon does a really bad job of promoting canadian anything, authors, artists, musicians, etc...so it's completely understandable why these people who barely make money because canadians don't read or buy or support their own artist communities much, but read and consumer more shit from america per person at a ridiculous pace and amounth, makes me want to support chapters in this inane fight. it's completely outlandish, childish, and stupid though. maybe shit like this wouldn't happen if the laws weren't so easily exploitable and protectionist, but once again what chapters is doing and the publishers and all those guys are doing is understandable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    sdpate (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 2:46am


    Yes we get ripped off in Canada to protect inefficient businesses.

    I haven't bought a book in a bookstore for over two years but I buy books every couple of weeks - almost always from Amazon but price is not the issue. Amazon makes it easy. There is community on Amazon and their customer service is great. Sometimes it's cheaper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Dirk Ruffly, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    It's all going to seem silly when everyone jumps on the ebook bandwagon

    So will the Canadians be pushing for Internet filters to stop Amazon from selling ebooks across the border? In the not too distant future, this whole "book distribution center" furor will look pretty silly.

    The music industry is the example; see the future unfold ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Bob, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 8:41am


    This will decimate independent bookstores across the country.

    Canadian Independent booksellers are unable to compete with Amazon because there is not a level playing field. Amazon buys its books from the publishers at a substantially greater discount than independent bookstores. They sell many titles at a lower cost than independent booksellers can buy them from the publishers. How can anyone compete with that? Amazon have also been able to ship books in Canada at prices that ordinary booksellers could only dream about. Decimating the independent bookstore sector will not increase competition - it will leave only Chapters/Indigo and Amazon dictating their terms to Canadian publishers.

    Amazon wish to locate here in order to further reduce costs and sell even cheaper. This will impact most on independent booksellers in smaller cities across the country.

    There is no economic benefit to the country in this. Money spent on Amazon is sucked out of Canada before the buyer releases the click button on their mouse. Whereas, when spent in local bookstores (who pay local taxes) it has a knock on effect through the local economy. Numerous jobs will be lost in the book trade across the country.

    Granting Amazons request will also open up the industry to further foreign ownership. If Reisman wishes to sell Chapters/Indigo to a big US chain now how could the government deny her having acquiesed to Amazon?

    There is always a cost to cheap as people are increasingly beginning to realise. Everyone in the USA thought it was great getting dirt cheap stuff in WalMart until they woke up one morning and discovered that nothing was made in the USA anymore and they had a balance of payment deficit of billions with China. False economy is everywhere today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Bob, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    Re: Amazon

    They were only allowed to sell into Canada because the government ruled that legislation was not being broken because they had no bricks and mortar presence here.

    They got around the legislation by striking a deal with Canada Post to do their distribution. Canada Post established a subsidiary that, as far as I know, does nothing but acts as Amazons distribution centre in Canada. Under this deal shipping a book that would cost an ordinary bookseller in the region of $6 was costing Amazon a matter of cents. This little arrangement could have been subsidised by the taxpayer for all anyone knows for I certainly have never understood the economics of it.

    Amazon now wants to walk away from Canada Post and run their own distribution centre. They seem to think that they can do it even cheaper. I do not understand how but it is clear that no net new jobs will be created in distribution.

    By the way, people should consider the carbon footprint of Amazon's business model. Enormous!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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