Cyber Monday is tomorrow! (Seriously, this post has actual info in it).

I mean, sure, buy stuff on Amazon and use this link:  But this is still of note.:

The first two days of the holiday sales period have netted $4.45 billion in U.S. online purchases, with mobile devices — led by smartphones — accounting for a record $1.5 billion of that amount, with $2.72 billion spent on BlackFriday and $1.73 billion on Thanksgiving. The figures come from Adobe, which has been tracking some 4,500 sites, including 80% of the top 100 retailers.

This is an improvement from last year; at least, Thanksgiving sales were and it’s estimated that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will follow suit. People do love buying their presents online these days. And go for it! …’Course, I’m biased that way.

The obligatory “Less than two weeks left on Christmas…”

“…and even less time if you want to get stuff through and have it there on time” post.

Bit of a mouthful, but hey: it’s not like every other blogger out there is looking for any cheap and tawdry excuse to propagate referral links oh wait.

Moe Lane

PS: Sometimes I wonder whether is buying goodwill in bulk from the Internet by offering generous referral compensation to its affiliates.  The rest of the time I don’t wonder; I simply just don’t care.  Because, you know, free money.

#rsrh Let me predict something about Idle Time Books.

Idle Time Books is, for those who haven’t read this Washington Post article yet on e-sales tax (an article that somehow manages to avoid noting that existing e-sales taxes have not increased revenue) (both links via Ben Domenech at Ricochet), being presented as the Plucky Little Company That Will Serve As a Club With Which To Morally Beat The Big, Bad Amazon:

Still, local retailers hope the sales tax measures will give them a chance to compete.

“I’ve got to file a form every month, and I’m only one tiny business,” said Val Morgan, owner of Idle Time Books, a 30-year old bookstore in Adams Morgan. “If I can do it, surely Amazon can.”

Continue reading #rsrh Let me predict something about Idle Time Books.

#rsrh Chris Christie joins in supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act.

I see that Hot Air is reporting on at least the first half of this – essentially, that Chris Christie has come out in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), a law that would set up federal guidelines for collecting sales tax online – but based on the comments there I’m not sure if enough folks really understand the situation here wrt  It boils down to this: contrary to popular belief, does not oppose the MFA.  It in fact supports it.  This is ostensibly because the MFA promises to standardize sales tax collection methods… but it’s mostly because’s business model actually is largely reliant on third-party vendors. Continue reading #rsrh Chris Christie joins in supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act.

#rsrh The publishing industry keeps missing the point.

In the process of noting the bizarre nature of the publishing industry (throwing fundraisers for the President whose administration is suing them*), the National Journal makes this comment:

Consider Robert Caro, who just released The Passage of Power, the latest in his Pulitzer Prize-winning multivolume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. It is project that Caro has been working on for close to 40 years. Before that, Caro won a Pulitzer for The Power Broker, a biography of urban planner and developer Robert Moses.

Caro had to sell his house to get the money to finish The Power Broker, and without the advances and editorial support given him by the Knopf publishing company, he could never have taken on the challenge of capturing a figure like Lyndon Johnson, with all his rich complexities.

If the publishing industry collapses, will Amazon or Apple pay the kind of advances that allow a writer like the young Robert Caro to tackle such an ambitious project, with no guarantee of success? Continue reading #rsrh The publishing industry keeps missing the point.’s vaunted customer service apparently lied to me.

I suppose that it was inevitable; they’re normally pretty good about this stuff, but apparently not today.  Short version: when I signed up for my Amazon Prime membership they charged the wrong card.  OK.  They neglected to send me a warning that my free trial was about to expire.  Well, that’s not required of them – a good idea, but not required.  Here’s the thing, though: when I called them about switching the initial charge from my debit account to the credit card (which I did, about five minutes after getting the overdraft notice from my bank*) they told me that they could and would do that, easily.  Well, it turns out that they don’t do that… which I only found out when I called to check why it hadn’t been done.

This is usually the point where I start shouting, but fortunately for the customer service rep I’m sick this morning, which means that I’m taking extra care with my temper. Continue reading’s vaunted customer service apparently lied to me.

Texas, come to agreement on sales tax collection.

This will no doubt cheer upthe big-box retailers gunning for, but Texas was in a good position to win this one; has an unambiguous, no-fooling, no need to evade Quill Corp. v. North Dakota physical presence in that state, in the form of a distribution center.  The list found here should give some clarity over where and when will end up fighting these particular battles.  Put simply: if you want to collect sales tax for you in your state, get them to put an office or distribution center there.  You might end up actually winning that fight, then.

In other words: Amazon taxes DO NOT WORK.  Being a good business environment does.  As, say, Texas is demonstrating, largely at, say, Illinois’ expense.

Moe Lane

Full disclosure: I am an affiliate for Maryland.

Amazon. Taxes. Do. Not. WORK. (Illinois edition)

I know that Neil over at RedState covered this in passing, but I wanted to highlight this situation.  Background: last year Illinois (read, Illinois Democrats, led by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn) decided to try to force to start collecting sales tax on purchases made by Illinois residents*.  Arguments were made at the time that this was a futile gesture, given that would simply end its affiliate program; the counter-argument was that would not, and that the end result would be more tax revenue collected.

Well.  The law passed in Illinois and promptly ended its Illinois affiliate program.  As expected; and as for more tax revenue… well, Chicagoist somewhat tartly noted that use tax (which is where the supposed tax income would have showed up) actually decreased in the second part of 2011.  It did not, in other words, provide the $150 million in new revenue that Illinois Democrats promised their electorate… which leads to Chicagoist to go “I told you so.”  Well, I told you so, too… and let’s not forget that this situation is even worse than that, given that the income gotten from affiliate programs is in fact taxable itself.  No affiliate program, no taxable income. Continue reading Amazon. Taxes. Do. Not. WORK. (Illinois edition)

#rsrh What the Indiana/ deal means – and doesn’t mean.

Came across this article via Hot Air on Indiana and coming to an agreement on collecting sales tax – short version; will start being liable for collecting sales tax in Indiana in 2014, or when federal legislation is passed, and not a moment before – and I was struck by the lack of information in it.  Specifically, on why was going along with this in the first place.  Generally speaking,‘s response to having individual states (they’re actually supportive of a federal program to straighten out state sales tax schemes) try to force it to collect sales tax is to refuse: it has a Supreme Court decision (Quill Corp v. North Dakota) that has established that companies do not need to collect states sales tax in states where they do not have a physical presence, and recent state legislative attempts to define ‘local online affiliates’ as ‘physical presence’ simply results in ending its affiliate programs in those states*.

So I looked it up… and it turns out that has a legitimate physical presence in Indiana (distribution centers); it had negotiated an agreement in 2007 with the state government to not be liable for collecting sales tax anyway.  Somebody sued over that, and has apparently decided that it might not win that particular lawsuit… so it made a deal where it will start being liable for sales tax collection a couple of years down the road.  All of which probably should have been in the story from the beginning, huh?

I shouldn’t complain: the inability of supposedly trained professionals to actually report the news has been a great personal boon to me and mine.  But it still bemuses, sometimes.

Moe Lane

Full disclosure: I am an Affiliate for Maryland.

*Except in New York, where they’re still fighting it in the courts.

I don’t think that this was the ABA’s intent.

I think that the American Booksellers’ Association’s intent was to have me go “Oh, how horrible is it that has an app that will allow people to comparison-shop on the fly.” Instead, it had me go “Wow. has an app that will allow me to comparison shop on the fly.  Let me download that RIGHT NOW.”  Admittedly, it’d be slightly more useful if my iPod Touch had a network card in it, but lots of places have free Wi-Fi these days.

…Yes, I’m going to spend extra time in Purgatory for that one.

Via @SonnyBunch