On Friday, their last day in session this year, the California Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly passed a compromise bill that will delay for one year a requirement that Amazon.com and many other online retailers begin collecting sales tax, the AP reported. Amazon has agreed to drop its effort to conduct a referendum against California's June law requiring Amazon to collect sales tax and will work again with affiliates in the state. If a federal law on Internet sales tax is passed before next July 31, that law will supersede this California law.
The bill has gone to Governor Jerry Brown, who has not yet indicated whether he will sign it or not.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D.-Berkeley), a co-sponsor of the bill, said: "We finally will give certainty to our California businesses ... that the unfair tax advantage that has been enjoyed by out-of-state online retailers will finally end. While it will not end this instant, it will end."
"It does save a very, very expensive and very divisive referendum campaign, pitting Amazon versus Wal-Mart, pitting brick and mortar versus online," Assemblyman Chris Norby (R.-Fullerton) said. "They'd be trashing each other."
Amazon.com is "talking with book publishers about launching a Netflix-like service for digital books," the Wall Street Journal reported, citing "people familiar with the matter."
Customers of the service would pay an annual fee to access the e-books. Amazon has said it is considering launching an e-book library for older titles, presumably in the public domain, that would be available to its Amazon Prime customers. Amazon would pay participating publishers "a substantial fee" and limit the amount of books Amazon Prime customers could read for free each month.
Publishers who spoke with the paper said they aren't enthusiastic about the idea "because they believe it could lower the value of books and because it could strain their relationships with other retailers that sell their books."
Next Jump, which has managed Borders Rewards for the past four years, has countersued Borders Group, disputing many of the charges brought against it by Borders, Reuters reported. In a suit filed August 31, Borders had said that Next Jump was illegally sending Borders customers to its website and was devaluing the worth of its intellectual property, which is currently up for auction (Shelf Awareness, September 7, 2011).
Next Jump has said it will stop sending customers to its website but said in the countersuit that Borders had agreed to the move in order to stop the loss of customers from Borders Rewards and protested later only to "pass the blame to Next Jump, insulate themselves from liability, and lay the groundwork for a meritless lawsuit designed to extract money." Next Jump also said it was "duped" by Daniel Angus, Borders's v-p, customer loyalty, who it said authorized the transfer.
Borders called the countersuit an attempt to "deflect attention from Next Jump's improper actions."
Glen Tomaszewski, one of the last executives still working for Borders Group, left the company effective September 2, the Detroit News reported. Tomaszewski had been serving as v-p, chief accounting officer, controller and treasurer.
McGraw-Hill is splitting into two companies. McGraw-Hill Education will focus on textbook and digital publishing and other education services. McGraw-Hill Markets will include Standard & Poor and J.D. Power and Associates and focus on markets. Major shareholders and activists had pushed for the breakup to improve the company's stock price.
McGraw-Hill Education is expected to have sales of about $2.4 billion this year. Robert Bahash, who has been president of McGraw-Hill's educational division, will be president until a CEO for McGraw-Hill Education is found.
Article in Wall Street Journal says more and more companies consciously drop articles before product names. Besides Apple, Facebook and Nintendo, examples include Kindle and Nook. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos on Charlie Rose Show last year omitted all articles in references to Kindle. Reportedly B&N creative director Glenn Kaplan advises colleagues who use articles with Nook to cease. One marketer explains that when article is dropped, brand takes on iconic feel. But, of course, people who care about language protest.
Personal opinion: omitting articles can lead to confusion but makes for easy imitation of person speaking Russian.
Phoenix Books and Café, Essex, Vt., has added the Gallery at Phoenix Books, which will exhibit works by Vermont painters, photographers and craftspeople. The Gallery has joined the Vermont Crafts Council and is participating in the inaugural Foliage Open Studio Weekend on October 1 and 2. The store has exhibited work by the Essex Art League since it opened in 2007.
"Having a bookstore, with a cafe offering beer and wine and displaying beautiful works of art--it stimulates all of our senses," owner Mike DeSanto said. "This is about making a commitment to artists to expand their reach into a new community. Phoenix Books stands behind this effort by featuring these local artists in our newsletter, within the store and as part of our overall marketing effort."
Cool idea of the day: this past weekend, Carmichael's, Louisville, Ky., celebrated its 33 1/3 anniversary with special T-shirts and deals that included a 33% discount on purchases of at least three items. Louisville.com offered an appreciative history of the two stores with their "wide variety of hand-picked titles that reflect both the tastes of the owners and the personalities of the neighborhoods they serve. Carmichael's is a family business in the truest sense."
Tom Gombar, owner of Dharma Bum Books, Hopewell, N.J., "is still in love with the '60s, with the beatniks, with Woodstock, the hippies, and the counterculture of his youth. So in love that, entering his own seventh decade, he decided the thing to do was to start a bookstore where the dream of the counterculture could be kept alive and brought to a new generation," MercerSpace.com reported.
Gombar's vision for his bookshop, which he hopes to model after two of his favorites--City Lights bookstore in San Francisco and Shakespeare and Company in Paris--is to create a place for people to discuss ideas. "I'd love to have people just coming in here and spending time," he said. "I've got a fairly eclectic group of friends, and I want to create a place they can feel comfortable sitting and exchanging ideas or book recommendations or arguing politics or anything short of fisticuffs."
Book trailer of the day: Pretty by Jillian Lauren (Plume).
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has begun an online auction of work by artists in the children's book industry, including Peter Brown, Susan Jeffers, Wendell Minor, Adam Rex and Paul O. Zelinsky. More than 70 pieces will be auctioned on eBay over three weeks, with new offerings every Friday. Proceeds from the auction, which previously benefited the Association of Booksellers for Children, will be used in the foundation's fight against censorship. Visit the Banned Books Week Auction eBay page at myworld.ebay.com/abffe.