Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble Inc has invited independent Web operators that are affiliates of online retailer to switch to its network.

The affiliates, which are paid a fee when they drive traffic to Amazon that results in a sale, have found themselves in the middle of a battle between Amazon and several states that argue Amazon has a duty to collect sales tax when those affiliates operate in their state.

In an open letter, Barnes & Noble invited affiliates of Amazon to join its group, saying it would take care of collecting and remitting sales taxes due on Barnes & Noble Web sales on their behalf to shield them from action from state tax auditors.

Barnes & Noble also accused Amazon of preferring to harm those businesses than comply with state law.

An Amazon spokesperson could not immediately be reached for a comment.

Barnes & Noble said its network has 13,000 affiliates.

With sales of books at its bricks-and-mortar stores in a long-term decline, Barnes & Noble has invested in developing it its Web presence and its Nook electronic reader to win a share of the growing e-books market.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba, editing by Maureen Bavdek)