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Canadian booksellers want Amazon to stay out

March 10, 2010 |  2:30 pm

If it's up to Canadian booksellers, Amazon.com will be barred from opening on-the-ground operations in the country. "Individual Canadian booksellers have traditionally played a key role in ensuring the promotion of Canadian authors and Canadian culture," Canadian Booksellers Assn. President Stephen Cribar said Monday. "These are values that no American dot-com retailer could ever purport to understand or promote."

Last week, the Quill and Quire reported that Amazon.com is seeking approval from the Canadian government to establish operations in Canada. Although Amazon can and does sell books -- and Kindles and movies and electronics -- to Canadians at Amazon.ca, the company wants to expand its offerings and reduce shipping costs. The Globe and Mail talked to Paul Misener, Amazon.com's vice president of global public policy, reporting that he told them that the company "has poured 'tens of thousands of dollars' a year into supporting Canadian culture since it launched Amazon.ca in 2002."

In Monday's statement, the booksellers association wrote, "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."

Some Canadian publishers agree, but not all. Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Assn. of Canadian Publishers, told Publishers Weekly that supporters believe Amazon's move into the country would improve the quality of service. The debate may not last long -- the Globe and Mail reports that insiders are saying Canada's conservative government is leaning toward approving Amazon.com's request. 

-- Carolyn Kellogg