Business

Booksellers spar over Obama book

A new book about Sen. Barack Obama has intensified a rivalry between two powerful competitors: Barnes & Noble Inc. and Amazon.com.

Chelsea Green Publishing, a small publisher in Vermont, is releasing Robert Kuttner's “Obama's Challenge,” a call for Obama to enact a bold, progressive economic agenda. It plans to distribute copies at next week's Democratic National Convention.

Angering Barnes & Noble and independent sellers, the publisher also will distribute coupons that can be redeemed exclusively through Amazon.com's BookSurge, a print-on-demand service that enables books to be printed in small quantities.

According to Chelsea Green, several independent stores complained, withdrew their orders and threatened to boycott other Chelsea Green books. Chelsea Green's president, Margo Baldwin, defended her decision, saying, “This is about a publisher's commitment to its author to get one of a very few pro-Obama books out into the marketplace in the shortest amount of time.”

Barnes & Noble, which had ordered several thousand copies, told Chelsea Green it would not stock “Obama's Challenge” and only make it available through special orders or online at www.bn.com.

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