May 31, 2011, 3:27 PM

A college bookstore trade group seeks dismissal of an Amazon lawsuit

Amazon sued The National Association of College Stores over a textbook advertising dispute.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

The National Association of College Stores Inc. said today it has asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington State to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Amazon.com Inc. against the trade association of college and university bookstores. The motion from the group is the latest development in a dispute between the world’s largest retailer and the association, which represents 3,100 bookstores, over ads for textbook pricing.

Earlier this month Amazon filed the federal suit after the association sent a letter in March to the Better Business Bureau claiming that Amazon’s textbook ads were misleading. The association says that Amazon cannot prove its advertising claims that it can save students up to 30% off new textbooks and up to 90% off used ones.  The association also said that Amazon lied when it promised students they could receive up to 60% back when selling used textbooks to the retailer, which is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.  The trade group wants the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau to investigate “the truth and accuracy” of Amazon’s advertising claims.

In the lawsuit, Amazon denied that its textbook ads were misleading, and argued that bookstores that belong to the association want to maintain their profit margins, which Amazon says can run 20-25% when they don’t face online competition. The retailer says that three companies that own about 1,500 college bookstores and belong to the trade group—Barnes & Noble, No. 41 in the Top 500 Guide,  Follett Higher Education Group, No. 58, and Nebraska Book Co.—have a strong interest in high textbook prices. Amazon wants the federal court  to declare that its pricing claims do not violate a federal trademark law that bars misleading advertising.

 “Rather than fight about it in court, the National Association of College Stores  would rather encourage Amazon to join in adopting a commitment to substantiated advertising claims to provide students with the accurate facts they need to make responsible textbook purchasing and renting decisions,” the trade group says in today’s statement.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the trade group’s motion for dismissal.

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