Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) called the promotion "anti-competitive" and "an attack on Main Street businesses that employ workers in our communities.""Plus, I'm pretty sure it's a felony," she added.
"It's wrong to try something in the store and then buy it online," added Leslie Tweedle, who owns a bookshop with her husband in Chicago. "And burning down the store ... that's very hard for a small retailer to deal with."
Tweedle said her husband had to confiscate matches, gasoline and at least one blowtorch from cell phone-wielding customers during Amazon's promotion earlier this month. One patron did manage to burn several copies of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, but "let's face it, that's not a huge loss," said Tweedle.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos defended the app, noting that in the end it helps the consumer find the lowest prices, which is important in a tough economy. Also, he noted that it doesn't explicitly encourage shoppers to burn down retail stores, but rather just notes the types of kindling and accelerants that would be most effective given the kind of store the shopper is in.
For instance, if the shopper is in a bookstore, the readout reads "kerosene," but in a card and gift shop it recommends "mineral turpentine."
"It's really for entertainment purposes only," said Bezos. "Besides, many of those places have more than adequate insurance, probably."
Some legislators were in favor of the app as well. "Amazon is just doing what it needs to do to succeed, which is the beauty of the free market," noted Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who received a $4,000 contribution from Amazon in 2010. "Not a lot of $4,000 contributions coming from locally owned independent bookstores," he added. "I'm just saying."