Friday, February 09, 2007

talking to the tax man about poetry

One can develop immunity from articles like this, but it still pisses me off that the "blues"' around independent bookstores in a changing retail landscape come from a bad movie.
When books or most other stuff can be purchased from a plethora of sources it's harder for independent shops to play an independent card as a sort of badge of honour. (We haven't gone all corporate, man!) isn't much of a rallying cry. Independent bookstores are in fact, very dependent on their communities, but communities are dependent on locally owned business as well.
If, as Chris (Long Tail) Anderson says, "a lot of our affection for bookstores is based on a romanticized notion" is true well that's nice, and not without merit. But the reason independent business needs to be present in communities has much more to do with dollars and sense.
As good on price as chain stores are over their independent counterparts, they don't begin to match the amount of taxes paid into the communities they both inhabit.
It bugs me that someone who "heard about this book on the CBC" turns around and orders it on Amazon. For all I know, Jeff Bezos may by a huge fan of NPR; I'm sure he's never paid any taxes to keep the CBC up and running.
As for paragraphs like this, well....
""Why would anyone want to perpetuate small independents by paying higher prices?" wondered Curtis Faville, a poet who sells rare books on the Internet. "Most of these proud little independents were poorly run anyway."
Mr. Faville has apparently never seen the anemic poetry sections at chain stores in Waterloo. One can maintain a decent poetry section and take a hit on cash flow, but I guess that makes my little shop poorly run.
I submit that the independents that are left are running their businesses pretty damn well, mostly out of necessity. Conversely, Amazon has a current long term debt of $1.5 billion and took years to register any kind of profit, most of that EBITA driven.
Chapters-Indigo lost millions in its first five years. If only they were run as well as most small businesses.
Things are pretty dire for independent shops of all kinds, but the idea that they can be wholly replaced with online shopping or any store that exists in dozens of cities ignores economic reality.
We all still have to live somewhere. It would be good if that somewhere had a tax base.

Posted by Dave

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails