Local Booksellers Unhappy About Purdue-Amazon Partnership

Aug 13, 2014

A pair of philosophy textbooks inside University Bookstore, which sits across the street from the Purdue Union -- future site of an Amazon storefront.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

At least one West Lafayette textbook retailer says he’s not happy with Wednesday’s announcement of an agreement between Purdue University and Amazon.com.

Tom Frey runs University Bookstore, which sits across the street from the Purdue Memorial Union, but isn’t the school’s official textbook retailer. In the spring, Amazon will open a physical storefront in the Union.

Frey says it’s the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the internet company and the National Association of College Stores, of which he’s a member.

“We’ve given our lawyers for the National Association of College Stores a list of 57,000 titles that they’re selling below our cost. Which is against the law,” Frey says.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels says he’s not sure how or if local retailers will compete with the Amazon agreement, adding his primary concern is students’ pocketbooks.

“You know, we wish them well, but our job is to look out for our students and their families and their budgets," Daniels says. "More competition is going to be a very good thing for them.”

Purdue is the second school to have such an agreement with Amazon. The University of California-Davis was the first. Frey admits textbook sales there haven’t taken a noticeable hit as a result.