February 15, 2011, 1:00 PM

Barnes & Noble woos Amazon’s affiliates

Barnes & Noble says collecting sales tax will not interrupt its business with web affiliates.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

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Multichannel retailer Barnes & Noble Inc., noting that already collects sales tax on all online as well as offline sales, has offered to take sales leads from any online affiliates that get terminated by rival bookseller Amazon.com Inc. because of sales tax collection.

“If Amazon doesn’t want you, we do!” Barnes & Noble.com president John Foley says in a Valentine’s Day open letter posted on BN.com to Amazon’s affiliates. “And we will take care of collecting and remitting all sales taxes due on BN.com sales to its customers so you and our customers don’t have to worry about being hassled or prosecuted by state tax auditors.”

Barnes & Noble has received “significant interest from affiliates,” a spokeswoman says, without offering specifics.

Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, declined to comment on Barnes & Noble’s overture to affiliates. In recent years Amazon has terminated relationships with online affiliates in states including Rhode Island, Colorado and North Carolina. Rhode Island and North Carolina also have laws requiring online retailers with affiliates within their states to collect sales tax. Such laws consider online affiliate operations to constitute a physical presence and, therefore, a responsibility to collect sales tax on sales to state residents. Colorado has other legislation Amazon opposes.

Barnes & Noble, No. 42 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, says it works with more than 13,000 online affiliates worldwide. “They are an important part of our overall business success and strategy,” Foley says.

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