Read an eBook Week and Amazon in the News

Read an Ebook Week

This is Read an Ebook Week according to Catana, whose blog, “Tracking the Words,” is dedicated to exploring and entering the world of ebook publishing.  Check out the article here:

Among other things, you can find special freebees and offers on Smashwords this week (a permanent link is now on my Blogroll).

And in case anyone hasn’t checked, you do not need special hardware to read an ebook.  All the major sellers have free apps for pc’s, macs, smart phones and tablets, so this might be a good time to take a look.

Amazon the Tax Evader?

A scathing editorial in the Sacramento Bee this morning condemned Amazon for refusing to pay state sales tax, and threatening California based affiliates if the legislature forces their hand.

Weren’t all online sales initially tax free?  After that I thought it had to do with whether or not a company has a brick and mortar presence in the state in question.  Now with so many states in dire financial circumstances, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until every online purchase is taxed.

There seems a bit much hand-wringing in this editorial though.  Noting that the state deficit is $26.5 billion, and uncollected taxes from Amazon total $300 million, it’s a bit disingenuous to suggest we blame Amazon if there’s not a cop when we need one, or if a disabled family member can no longer get in-home care.

Still, there’s the issue of fairness, and the local paper quotes the Seattle Times:  Amazon is a giant. It has helped drive hundreds, and maybe thousands, of bookstores out of business. The Internet retail industry already has a cost-of-real-estate advantage over free-standing stores. It should not have a tax advantage as well.

Given that eventual taxation is inevitable, the statement that really interested me is that Amazon “helped drive hundreds, maybe thousands of bookstores out of business.”

I’m skeptical of this one, for several reasons.

1)  I can think of several towns, like San Luis Obispo, where it was big box brick and mortar stores, rather than Amazon, that drove the appealing Indies away.

2)  Businesses big and small that ignored the web, including Tower, which I loved, are going or gone, but lavish web sites do not seem necessary to survive and thrive.  I’ve bought several rare editions from mom and pop used bookstores, with simple small-business type web sites.  You could argue that Amazon is one of the two major venues (eBay being the other) that give such enterprises a place in the virtual mall to display their wares.

These certainly are rapidly changing times.  How do you feel about it?  Is Amazon an enemy of the little guy?  A champion of the little guy?  Both?  Neither?  Email if you want more space to voice an opinion than a comment allows.

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