Community leaders gathered in Sacramento, Calif., yesterday to launch a consumer boycott of Amazon because of the company's efforts to overturn a new California law requiring Internet retailers to collect sales tax. The Bay Citizen reported that the boycott is "backed by many Democratic members of the state Legislature," including East Bay Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and State Senator Loni Hancock.
"You have to pay tax for what you pay for," said Nan Brasmer, president of the 950,000-member California Alliance for Retired Americans. "If I'm buying from Amazon to avoid paying sales tax and I can't go to the free kitchen for seniors anymore, what have I done but cut off my nose to spite my face?"
"We're asking people to think before they shop on Amazon and tell Amazon what they think," Nancy Berlin, director of the California Partnership--which advocates for health and social service funding--told the Sacramento Bee. "We don't have the kind of money and power Amazon does, but collectively we're asking our people and others in our community who share our values to put their money where their values are."
KABC reported that "advocates for the poor believe their state services wouldn't have been cut as deeply had online retailers like Amazon collected sales tax from their California customers. The group launched its own site to get Californians to sign up and boycott Amazon."
"Our services have already been cut to the bone. People with disabilities, seniors, kids, parents, poor people. All of us have almost nothing left to survive on," said Jessica Lehman, Community Resources for Independent Living.
A flurry of e-book antitrust class action lawsuits have followed in the wake of one filed last week by consumer rights law firm Hagens Berman (Shelf Awareness, August 10, 2011) that claimed Apple, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster "colluded" to fix e-book prices.
Thomson Reuters reported that "four follow-on class actions suddenly appeared in New York and California federal courts on Thursday and Friday?"
"We spent half a year investigating this. We hired experts to put together that information," said Steve Berman, adding, "They're all copying us, hoping to get a piece of the action. It's really outrageous. They're just trying to take our case away.... I'm going to say that these guys are all copycats and don't deserve to be the lead."
Early this fall, Books-A-Million plans to open a new store in a closed Borders location at the Westfield Southlake mall in Merrillville, Ind., the Street reported.
"Westfield Southlake is happy to welcome Books-A-Million to our shopping center and know that our shoppers will enjoy their selection of books, electronics, accessories and more," said Lisa DeVries, the mall's marketing director.
Success magazine's American Comebacks feature showcased Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle, Wash., and chronicled how owner Peter Aaron and his staff handled their "move-or-die decision" after 36 years in the city's historic Pioneer Square district: "The last customer left and the lock gave a final click. Employees--also numbering 36--broke out the champagne. And then, they got to work. Rather than close the doors for good, owner Aaron was betting the failing store would thrive at a new location."
"It was very risky," Aaron said of the move to the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
"But it took much more to make a successful move than simply relocating," Success noted, adding: "From the first day, customers said Aaron had transplanted the store's soul along with its contents, and they shopped accordingly. He had figured he needed a 10% rise in sales to keep the business viable. Sales have held at a better level, up 15% to 20% compared to the previous year."
Aaron said, "When it came right down to it, I just thought that the store was too valuable to the community, too important to the literary life here, for it to go away."
Crain's explored the concept of "locavesting"--local investors backing small businesses based in their communities--through the lens of the "daunting challenge" Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo faced in 2008: "raising $300,000 to start a bookstore in Brooklyn."
"People were willing to invest in something that would have a concrete benefit for their community," said Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore, which now has more than $1 million in revenues and nine employees.
Red Fox Books, Glens Falls, N.Y., will be closing in mid-September. The indie bookstore cited a sluggish economy and the rapid rise of e-books, which resulted in the loss of many regular customers and a steady decline in sales for the past year, as primary factors in the decision.
In a letter to customers posted on the store's website, owners Susan Fox and Naftali Rottenstreich said they are "heartbroken to see this chapter in our lives, and in the life of Glens Falls, come to an end... If anyone is interested in buying all or part of our store, or in starting a different bookstore in this area, we would love to hear from you. As residents of Glens Falls, we do not want to live in a town without a bookstore, and we would be more than willing to assist a new store in any way possible. We believe there might be new models of bookselling that can be viable given the right owner with the right resources. If you are interested, please contact us at 518-793-5352 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
"It's the living room one aspires for but never has," said a customer of Bikya Book Café in Cairo, Egypt. The bookstore, which is owned by five women, opened last January and "has now become a cultural hub in the middle of Nasr City, a neighborhood deficient in cultural venues. In Bikya, people come to read, meet with friends or work quietly in a corner. Few places in Cairo offer a truly quiet environment such as Bikya," the Daily News Egypt reported.
It's digital back-to-school season. Amazon launched a free Amazon Student app for iPhone and iPod Touch that allows customers to compare prices, buy textbooks or trade in textbooks from their mobile devices.
Barnes & Noble is also in full campus mode, announcing it will expand its offering of Nook devices through all of its B&N College campus bookstores. Most locations will feature a Nook display, including demonstration units for "local students, faculty and others to try and buy," while some stores will have Nook signage and booksellers can help customers order devices to be shipped to them.
More than souls were bared last weekend during a poetic photo shoot in England's Lake District for a charity calendar. The Guardian reported that after her two-year-old son was diagnosed with type one diabetes, Wild Women Press co-founder and poet Victoria Bennett came up with the idea of a calendar that "saw a male poet paired with a female photographer for each month of the year (plus one extra month 'for all the things you never have time to do'). The duo were then asked to interpret a poem donated for the calendar by a female poet, from Wendy Cope to Penelope Shuttle, Moniza Alvi and Pascale Petite."
Bennett added that they "shot on the ledge where Coleridge used to write, on the opium bed in his study, by Southey's desk. We figured Coleridge would have approved. Once upon a time Wordsworth, Byron and others used to gather there. Now we have a different group." Proceeds from calendar sales will go to diabetes research.
Lev Grossman, author most recently of The Magician King, selected his 10 must-read fantasy novels for Flavorwire.
Book trailer of the day: The Little Yellow Bottle by Angèle Delaunois, illustrated by Christine Delezenne (Second Story Press), a September title.