John Judis at The New Republic has an interesting piece on Amazon’s intentional efforts to avoid taxation in several states that direly need revenue. After all, Amazon’s ability to avoid charging sale’s tax provides you and I opportunities to buy books (as well as plethora of other items) for dirt cheap.
This subject, which has been intensified lately due to Borders declaring bankruptcy, may be a good time for us all to question when to buy books online and when to buy in a store. What logic comes into play when we choose one outlet over the other? For me, if I can find a book for a penny plus ~$4 s&h on Amazon, I will go with that option over a store that may charge anywhere in the upward vicinity of $27 plus tax. If I can find a book in a store for a few dollars more than Amazon, I will go with the store. Judis elaborates on the ripple effects of the latter choice: “local realtors sustain neighborhoods and suburban malls; they fund local newspapers and theater groups. They are part of a community in a way that Amazon or Overstock—its Utah-based partner in fighting state sales taxes—will never be.” It is also worth noting that Amazon would not me Amazon without bookstores or trading houses who originally sell the books that we find online for a low price.