Saturday, July 28, 2012

My love-hate relationship with Amazon

This morning I read in the Times that Jeff Bezos has pledged $2.5M in support of same-sex marriage in Washington State. I wanted to let Amazon know that I'm happy about this support by its CEO, so I clicked on over to to find their "contact us" link.

Without success.

Unless I'm just hopelessly blind this morning, Amazon doesn't seem to have a mechanism for receiving general feedback.

And so goes the ongoing saga of my relationship with Amazon. for example: I'm a long-time Kindle user; I own every model of the Kindle so far, except the DX. Obviously I like reading on the Kindle. It's great to be able to carry a whole library with me in a small, light-weight package that can go a week without recharging, and my eyes appreciate the ability to change font sizes to accommodate changing reading conditions. Being able to sample a book before buying has made me a more adventurous reader.

But -- the DRM periodically drives me crazy. Subscriptions are especially painful. I was delighted when the New York Times Kindle Edition finally became good enough that we could cancel our paper subscription to the Times; I hated putting out pounds of paper each week in the recycling. But I can only have the Times delivered to one of my Kindles - making it impossible for Katy and I to share the Sunday Times. We can sort of work around this by using the digital access that comes with a Kindle subscription to read the Times on an iPad, but it's not the same.

Then there is Amazon's stance on sales tax. It's just utterly bogus to claim at this point in the history of the Internet that requiring online retailers to collect and pay state sales taxes is "too onerous" or would "suppress online sales." Many online retailers manage this without any problems; surely Amazon could as well. Yet Amazon continues to lobby against this.

Ah, well. Thanks, Jeff, for the good; can you try to do something about the bad?


  1. Why should retailers be forced to be tax collectors, especially for states they are not in?

    Sales tax is the responsibility of the buyer, not the seller - that's why it's tacked onto the price of something instead of extracted from the price. It's also why 22 states have a line for Use Tax on their income tax forms. If a state is not receiving sales tax for items bought online, it is the state's citizens who are breaking the law, not online retailers.

    States should be taking enforcement action against their people, not against online retailers. But of course, that's politically impossible. So state politicians use online retailers as vulnerable scapegoats. It's manipulative and dishonest demagoguery.

    States are demanding that out-of-state companies perform a service for them. By what right do they make that demand? What compensation do they provide for the service? In what sense is it justice?

    1. Regarding the sales tax issue: interested readers should check out this WSJ article, which presents both sides

      Further comments can happen there, not here.