Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness has a solution to the Amazon problem at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-26/let-states-tax-amazon-e-commerce-at-source-commentary-by-ramesh-ponnuru.html

Monday, July 25, 2011

American Bookseller's Association Statement on E-Fairness

The American Booksellers Association "firmly believes it is the responsibility of state leaders to uniformly and fairly enforce sales tax laws by requiring all retailers—whether they operate online, in bricks-and-mortar stores, or a combination of both—to fulfill their obligation to collect sales tax."

Here is their statement.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Spin Starts on California "Amazon" Tax Being Bad for Small Businesses

It's already started, and I guess we should have expected it.  The "Amazon" tax is bad for small businesses--Amazon affiliates.  So therefore, California shouldn't tax Amazon. So here's the spin: take a little truth, Amazon affiliates in California will be hurt, and then make it the whole argument.  Amazon has dropped California affiliates unceremoniously.  Did it have to? No, they could have just payed local taxes.  So of course, government, not Amazon will take the blame.

I do feel empathy for those who were dropped.  Don't get me wrong.  I feel their pain.  I also don't buy the argument that I suspect is coming from the other side--that it isn't that much money anyway.  For some of us, that few hundred or few thousand bucks a year or month makes a big difference. I regret that they will be impacted.  I'm sure that they have put lots of work into their websites.

Yet, Amazon as well as its affiliates have had an unfair advantage over the competition for years by Amazon not having to pay local taxes.  Why should Amazon, with representative with a website selling books locally not have to pay taxes when the person with the bricks and mortar store down the street has to?

I'm not going to argue constitutionality issues. I don't pretend to be a legal scholar.  But neither is Jeff Bezos.  Ultimately, this to me is about right and wrong and the future.  The world has rightfully embraced the Internet.  But, as Bezos and other Internet businesses capture more of the market through this unfair advantage, what is going to be sacrificed when fewer and fewer businesses are paying taxes?  Our schools, our roads, our critical infrastructure.  We can save with Amazon in the short term, but pay big time as our schools and infrastructure crumble, all in the name of a cheaper price.  Local taxes are some of the most visible tax dollars, and some of the most important. Just pay them Bezos.  Until he does, we shoppers have to take the high ground and buy local.  Which we should be doing anyway.

Let's look at it this way.  Say you live in a small town.  Now imagine that Walmart has driven out all of the locally owned small businesses with cheaper prices.  The only local retail store is Walmart.  Now, what if Walmart didn't pay any taxes?  Get the point?  No infrastructure.  Just pay the taxes Bezos.  For the rest of us, make the right decision. Don't buy Amazon. Shop local.  For books, and if you care about your neighborhood or town, for all retail.

Friday, July 1, 2011

"Day One" for Jeff Bezos is Grim News for Small Retail

Jeff Bezos says that it is "Day one," in the digital revolution during an interview posted at the website worldcrunch.com.   We can go with the spirit of that--things really are beginning.  But it doesn't bode well for most small businesses. In this revealing article, we see exactly how ravenous the company is when he lays out his vision in a very simple way.

Here is the most telling response Bezos gives to a question related to company growth:

"In most of the categories, the most we’re doing is adding depth. We’re in most of the major categories already and we’ll continue to roll things out. Our focused areas are on electronics, apparels, some consumable items. And in media, we really focus on digital, and that’s true for books but also for video, music, audio books, video games... So we sort of have our media business undergoing a digital transformation that we’re working very hard on. In our physical products business, there are still so much opportunities to continue to add selection inside existing categories."

He wants it all.  And it's hard to blame him.  He has a successful business model that has brought him great riches.  We can't begrudge him that.  However, it isn't a level playing field. Given Amazon's unfair advantage in that it doesn't pay local taxes, the tide is already in his favor and will likely continue down that path.  Unless we are responsible and choose not to buy from Amazon.  His responsibility is to grow his company.  Ours is to decide whether or not we want to support a business that has an unfair advantage over local retailers, who help pay the taxes that build roads and schools in our community.  We can save a little now when we buy Amazon, but will pay much more later.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yes California--Tax Amazon!

Every independent bookstore in the country pays taxes.  Not Amazon.  Why should they be given this competitive advantage?  California is calling them to task on it, and so what do they do?  Drop all of their local affiliates.  AP has the story on Huffington Post.  Every state should get behind California on this issue.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Write for Amazon and Don't Get Paid--What a Deal!

Writer Beware posts an article by Laura Hazard Owen at Paid Content here (she wants, and like most of us, needs to get paid!) about the bias in the reviews at Amazon.  Book reviews are invaluable, but Amazon wants us to do it for nothing, so they can make more money?  Biased in terms of who is writing them, and along multiple other dimensions.  But I'm not going to give up too much here--here is what the author has to say.  Well worth reading, and hopefully, someone will decide to pay her for it.  This is one of the better researched articles I have read on the subject.

Amazon Takes on Author's "Blurbs."

Writer Beware does a great job monitoring the publishing industry from a pro-writer perspective. They posted this interesting article on how Amazon is trying to manipulate the author "blurb" process that appeared in the New York Observer.  Basically, authors give us a blurb and we will promote your book. Unethical?  Probably not.  Just slimy.