(Adapted from David Cohen, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC)
My political mentors taught me that in the U.S., good and bad political news travels from west to east. Tim Rutten, a Los Angeles Times columnist, made me aware of the harm Amazon actively creates in California--a harm that will affect residents in the midwest including Wisconsin and all our other states.
Amazon refuses to collect taxes for sales to customers residing in states without a physical facility, a warehouse. This tax shelter comes from a 1992 Supreme Court decision. California facing huge deficits, made more so by our troubled economy, asserted its authority to collect these taxes. In California, $1.9 billion is lost in revenue from Amazon alone. The legislature acted responsibly and said, "Amazon, pay up."
Now, Amazon is gathering signatures on an initiative petition to place the Amazon sales tax exemption on the ballot. A company that at last count is capitalized at $98.45 billion will spend upwards of $20 million to buy itself an exemption in the California referendum. What can we do in the face of such litigiousness?
Money doesn't always win. The tobacco industry regularly loses state and local ballot initiatives. So there is hope. Rutten writes: "The fact that it [Amazon] refuses to collect sales taxes obviously gives it a competitive advantage over all the brick and mortar book stores and appliance showrooms." Yes, Amazon has a competitive head start economically over independent bookstores, such as Redbery Books.
But the harm Amazon does extends far beyond independent bookstores. The loss of revenue is immense, adversely affecting citizens in our ability to support our children with education, to serve the ill through Medicaid, and to protect our neighborhoods with adequate police and fire services.
We do not have to be helpless and supine. We can ask our local and state government officials to examine the California law and adapt it to our own local and state needs. When enough jurisdictions act then Congress will have to act.
It will not be an easy fight. Powerful interests will seek their exemptions as an entitlement. What stands out is the harm that Amazon does to the core institutions that serve all the people. Its refusal to collect state and local taxes malnourishes what holds us together as a people. That is the shameful behavior that Tim Rutten documents. That's a call to action.
From Bev Bauer:
We know when late fall is transitioning to winter. It’s not just the falling temperatures or the shortened daylight hours. It’s when the best of the year lists start. So far this November, I have received numerous “best of the year”: best cookbook, best picture book, and best seller are just a few of the categories. Customers are often willing to share that they just read the best book or someone recommended the best book to them. All of this sent me wondering about what makes a book good and then what makes it the best. Truth is I couldn’t come with just one way to define thee best book. So I cheated a bit and just made up my own categories to fit the books of 2010 that I loved. Here are just a few favorites that made my list. Hope it gives you a start with yours.
Best book for the traveler whether in real time or in an armchair: Book Lust to Go by Nancy Pearl – suggestions to match your destination with your reading list. .
Best book for giving to a teacher who encouraged you to enjoy books: How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hill. Life would be great if we all had a Yellow Bird to inspire us.
Best book for celebrating art, science and poetry all in one: Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman. A gorgeous picture book for all ages.
Best endearing love story: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simpson. Charming characters.
Best book about creating family: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
Best book for book collectors: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. A true story of a literary obsession. It could happen.
Book that I didn’t want to end: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.
From Bev Bauer:
By now, mid-September, we are far enough into the school year that the daily routine feels comfortable but yet filled with new energy and hope for a successful year. You don’t have to look too far to find the experts’ opinions and suggestions on how to keep that going all year. While I’m not an expert, I’d side with Little Bird’s approach in Rocket Learns to Read, one of my favorite books of the fall season. Rocket, a spotted dog, would rather laze around than do almost anything else until Little Bird begins reading to him. Rocket becomes caught up in the stories and soon is eager to unlock the mysteries of reading and learning.
This book encouraged a look backyard to the Little Birds I have known in my life and the books that created that spark. There are some quirky lesser-known ones like Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka, the three sisters that seemed so much more adventurous than the three girls in my family. Long time favorites also come to mind such as the curious Pokey Little Puppy, Charlotte’s Web which proclaims friends are terrific, Miss Rumphius who made the world more beautiful, and The Little Engine that Could taught the power of positive thinking.
Anita Silvey, an expert in children’s literature and author of the book Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book has spent much of her career studying what are the best books for children and what is memorable about them years later when an adult. I found it fascinating to learn that often a specific line from a book can chart careers and has shaped national figures. Silvey will be the keynote speaker at the Northwood’s Children’s Book Conference, October 1st at Lakewoods Resort. She will talk about the roles parents, teachers, and librarians have played in the lives of all of us, as well as some of our celebrities, through the power of books. Tickets to the keynote address are available at a cost of $25.00 and may be reserved by calling Redbery Books, 715-798-5014. Space is still available for the full conference as well.
In the meantime, I hope you can take the time to be the Yellow Bird to a child in your life. Making reading important to a child is one thing on which the experts agree.
Bev Bauer on our lovely pens:
I love the writing pens we offer. I like to think of them as bling for your desk, your handbag, and your brain. They come in a variety of fun designs that can't help but make you smile. When I pick up my pen to sign a greeting card, my Acme pen is like a little pause sign, a reminder that special thoughts are connecting to paper. Writing in a journal, taking notes in a meeting, making a to-do list, even signing checks or documents is more fun with a special pen. Paying attention to details that make us feel good is part of our being - whether it's eyeglasses with personality, a special scent, or a handbag in a favorite color. So why not a pen that makes a statement?
For a limited time, the ACME pen line is 20% off.
Mention this Blog entry to receive your discount.
After much work, the long-awaited new Redbery Books web site is now live. Hopefully, the new web site will provide you with greater functionality and more and easier access to information. This new site contains an active eStore where you can order from Redbery Books 24/7 with your choice of free media mail shipping or free in store pick up, easier access to events, greater information about our book clubs and the ability to check our in store inventory updated every store day. So poke around, check us out and let us know what you think.