Beginning of the End of Favoritism for Online Sellers?

I’ve never observed a consensus on anything between Amazon and the American Booksellers Association, but a new initiative from a bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators seems to have found that improbable sweet spot, at least for now. Called the Marketplace Fairness Act, according to Publishers Weekly, a new law would have the “goal of leveling the playing field between brick-and-mortar retailers and online retailers.” Statements from both organizations showed support for the proposed law. Until now, “Amazon has staunchly opposed state-by-state” sales “tax initiatives, but said it would back a national policy.” “Staunchly opposed” is putting it mildly as Amazon has gone so far as to cut off affiliates in states planning to collect sales tax. For its part, ABA CEO Oren Teicher said, “For the first time in a long time, there has been significant movement in Washington in the fight for e-fairness. It is crucial that we take advantage of this window of opportunity.” If enacted, this could help independent retailers, including indie booksellers, while providing revenue to strapped state governments. I imagine there may be some problems with the proposed law that hasn’t been revealed yet, but it is long since past time that as a social policy we stop giving one class of shopping–online–a key advantage over another–brick & mortar. I hope this proves as promising as it looks today. I will follow up in this space.

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