Amazon comes under fire for slowing publisher sales, not paying taxes, even as it expands its sales and delivery options

The online retail giant Amazon.com is becoming increasingly in the news of late as it expands its operations and flexes its commercial muscle – and some are not happy about it.

Roberts-cover-featureLast week Hachette Book Group publicly complained that Amazon was slowing shipments of some of its titles. Books such as Stephen Colbert’s America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t and Robin Robert’s Everybody’s Got Something are listed as shipping in three to five weeks, rather than the usually two days. While it is not actually unusual for some titles to be delayed – hardcover copies of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, for instance, were unavailable for awhile – it is odd when it starts to happen for one particular publisher.

Amazon-delayLeft unsaid, however, was why this might be happening. The publisher’s spokesman told the NYT simply that the retailer was delaying shipments “for reasons of their own.”

Meanwhile, Amazon took some heat int eh UK from Margaret Hodge, a Labour MP who is the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee. Hodge complained that Amazon was avoiding paying UK taxes on its UK sales, and called for a boycott of the retailer.

“It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax,” said Hodge, according to The Guardian. “They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere. What we demonstrated with Starbucks is the power of the consumer voice.”

Amazon’s European subsidiary is located in Luxembourg, and so sales go through the low tax nation rather than Amazon’s own Amazon.co.uk division. A boycott of Starbucks, for similarly avoiding UK taxes worked in convincing the coffee retailer to pay up.

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to expand its operations and sales power. On Friday the company announced a deal with the Italian bookstore chain Giunti whereby the two retailers would combine their online and physical bookstore outlets. The Italian bookstore retailer will begin selling Kindles at its 170 stores and Amazon will give away five free Kindle Editions with every purchase.

One wonders if the Italian retailer realizes that they are driving customers to digital media, and once there the readers will be buying direct from Amazon.it. The deal would be as if Barnes & Noble combined with Amazon in the U.S.

giunti-al-punto“The Giunti-Amazon agreement represents a milestone to advance the bookstore experience for our customers and promote reading in Italy, in any possible format,” said Martino Montanarini, Giunti CEO. “The Kindle ecosystem is truly appreciated by customers all over the world, thanks to this agreement, we can make the largest possible selection of books, digital innovation and eBooks available to our customers, adding the Italian Kindle Store and the Giunti online shop to the traditional Giunti al Punto offer.”

Amazon last week also announced that it had added 15 cities to its Sunday delivery program with the U.S. Postal Service. Amazon has been offering Sunday delivery in Los Angeles and New York, but now will be able to deliver on Sundays in Austin, Cincinnati, College Station, Columbus, Dallas and Houston, Texas, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Shreveport, and Waco, Texas.

“So far, the most common items delivered on Sunday include baby supplies such as newborn apparel, books and toys—Sunday delivery is clearly crossing errands off the weekend to-do list,” said Mike Roth, Amazon’s vice president of North America operations. “We know our Amazon customers love the convenience of everyday delivery, and we’re excited to be offering Sunday delivery in more cities across the U.S.”

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