Target Dumps Amazon Kindles Over Retail Rivalry

Target Book section
Target Book section

Apparently Kindles are the new Che Guevara CD cases at Target (TGT).

The cheap-chic retailer will discontinue the sale of Kindle e-readers and Amazon-branded products.

It's not business, (AMZN). It's just personal.

There's no denying that brick-and-mortar chains despise Amazon. Between the e-tailer's low overhead that helps it sell stuff at untouchable prices and its ability to skirt sales tax collection in all but a few states, Amazon may be a friend of the consumer, but there's no love lost between it and traditional retailers.

"Target continually evaluates its product assortment to deliver the best quality and prices for our guests," the discounter reveals in a statement published by The Verge.

That may be so, but if all of the Amazon gear will be discontinued in the coming weeks, why does Target plan to continue stocking Barnes & Noble's (BKS) Nook?

From Showrooming to Showboating

Target has been a vocal critic of the "showrooming" trend, in which consumers stroll its stores to kick the tires on items that they will ultimately buy through Amazon or other Web-based retailers for less.

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Target's response has been to come up with exclusive items that are only sold at its stores. The company is also considering subscription plans in which shoppers get discounts on repeat purchases. However, it's not as if there has ever been a public feud between the two companies. If that were the case, Target would've never started stocking Kindles in the first place.

But as Amazon's market share of traditional purchases continues to grow -- and the very nature of the Kindle Fire tablet aims to replace physical book, CD, and DVD sales -- it's easy to see why Target isn't keen on enriching the enemy.

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Che Chic

Kindles won't be the first product to be unceremoniously pulled from Target's shelves.

Target stopped selling Target-branded CD cases bearing the likeness of Che Guevara in 2006 after some right-leaning shoppers objected to the glorification of the violent rebel.


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However, instead of removing a self-branded product that's politically polarizing, this time it's pulling the e-reader that happens to be a market leader. The Nook is a distant silver medalist in this niche. Even Best Buy (BBY) -- which has been a bigger victim of Amazon's booming success -- is still open to selling Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets.

Even if one can rightfully argue that it doesn't make sense for a retailer to sell a rival's device, Target just comes off as being petty here. Unless it can prove that it's keeping the Nook because it's a better seller, Target just appears jealous.

What's next? Will Target pull the Jeff Bezos CD cases, too?

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy and Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and writing puts on Barnes & Noble.

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