College bookstores question Amazon’s legal tactics

One of the Amazon.com ads in dispute.

The National Association of College Stores, battling with Amazon.com over the online retailer’s textbook advertising, is questioning Amazon’s decision to go to court after the association asked the Better Business Bureau’s advertising division for an advisory opinion.

In a new filing in federal court in Seattle, the association asks the court to dismiss the suit and says Amazon “exploited the rules” of the Better Business Bureau division, which terminates cases when they’re escalated to full-blown legal proceedings. Read the full filing here: PDF, 27 pages.

Says the association in a statement: “Rather than fight about it in court, NACS 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 association has called Amazon’s online ads for textbooks — promising up to 30% off new textbooks and up to 90% off used textbooks — vague and unsubstantiated. The group also questions the Amazon’s claim that the company’s buyback program offers up to 60% back for used textbooks, given that the refund is in the form of a gift card, not cash.

In its lawsuit, filed May 3, Amazon asked for a declaratory judgment affirming the validity of its advertising. The suit (PDF, 15 pages) provided data intended to substantiate the claims — comparing Amazon’s prices vs. the list prices for textbooks.

No comment yet from Amazon on the latest NACS filing.

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