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Borders Closes the Books on Amazon

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the closing-that-chapter dept.

Books 173

theodp writes "Borders said Thursday that it was severing ties with Amazon and will compete directly against the e-tailer with its own website. The loss of Borders could cost Amazon $80-$160 million in annual revenue, according to one estimate. 'Amazon could gain market share in book selling over time because it will have an advantage over Borders, which now will charge a sales tax for all books sold. Companies have to charge a sales tax for Internet sales if they have a physical presence in states that collect sales taxes, [Stifel, Nicolaus & Co analyst Scott] Devitt said. Amazon collects sales taxes only on books sold in Washington, North Dakota, Kentucky and Kansas. Borders would collect sales taxes in all 50 states, the company said."

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173 comments

Um (1, Interesting)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460423)

Sales tax, schmales tax, couldn't they just drop the price of the books they sell so their price with sales tax is competitive with amazon without tax?

Re:Um (1)

the_wishbone (1018542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460461)

Or, for that matter, drop the price to $0.02 and I'm sure they'll sell TONS of books! I think you have a winner of a business plan here! I think I'll go patent that...

dropping price to a penny may already be happening (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460611)

See here [slashdot.org] , here [wsj.com] , and here [wsj.com] .

The articles are on Amazon ranking manipulation. From the 3rd link:
"One major quirk: Used and new book sales are counted equally. So an author anxious about his sales ranking could put a few dozen of his books for sale for a penny apiece and ask a friend to buy them all."

Hey, if it boosts your Amazon rankings, you'll make up for it in volume!

Re:Um (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460507)

No, not really. The store doesn't pocket that sales tax money, the state does. If they lower their prices they still have to pay sales tax and have the added effect of smaller profit margins.

Re:Um (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460575)

"The store doesn't pocket that sales tax money, the state does. If they lower their prices they still have to pay sales tax and have the added effect of smaller profit margins."

Well, with LA having about 9% sales tax....guess I won't be shopping at Borders.

Seriously, unless you have an emergency or dire need for something, does anyone actually buy much from B&M stores these days? I use them to go see something physically....then go to Amazon or wherever, to find the best deal with free shipping and no tax.

Re:Um (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460697)

I do. Usually things like DVDs or Wii/DS games and accessories. Books not as much, but still sometimes.

The extra $2 I end up saving ordering online in most cases doesn't make up for the ability to have it right then and not worry about USPS losing it, or waiting a week longer than expected.

Re:Um (2, Interesting)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460771)

Seriously, unless you have an emergency or dire need for something, does anyone actually buy much from B&M stores these days?

Yep, Internet shopping is not as prevelant today as you might think. The average American user is still nervous making on-line purchases and the more they see on the news about ID theft of any kind, the longer they will remain nervous.

Besides, the price difference isn't that much. Unless your buying $100's of dollars worth of books, the tax is chump change. What I hate is the publishers charging exobitant prices for book, especially reprints. There are some classics that re-published on better stock and are priced out at $15-$20 for a paper back!

Re:Um (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461437)

Not books,
But when I'm buying parts for my old diesel benz I shop on-line exclusively. The parts counters have insane markups that the on-line stores don't have (still branded OEM parts mind you). As an example: set of motor and transmission mounts:
Parts counter: $32 each On-line: $22 each
return line hose dealer: $20 each. On-line: $4.00 each
-nB

Re:Um (1)

Chris_Stankowitz (612232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461583)

Seriously, unless you have an emergency or dire need for something, does anyone actually buy much from B&M stores these days? I use them to go see something physically....then go to Amazon or wherever, to find the best deal with free shipping and no tax.
Yes, it's still an experience for me. I enjoy walking through the isles and browsing. I think many avid readers are the same way. I still show at places like Amazon but it could not replace going to a brick and mortar completely and from the numberof other folks I still see in there with me I'm not alone. CS-

Re:Um (1)

LEgregius (550408) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461861)

Actually, that's not entirely true. Stores get to keep a portion of the sales tax as a fee for collecting it.

Re:Um (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460539)

Previous poster was a bit more tongue in check, but his basic point is quite correct. Amazon can't drop the price too...and they don't have to eat the cost of tax since they didn't have to pay it in the first place.

Re:Um (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460585)

And reduce their operating profit... and then go out of business because they couldn't be profitable, right?

There's no margin to discount (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460901)

Sales tax, schmales tax, couldn't they just drop the price of the books they sell so their price with sales tax is competitive with amazon without tax?


Not really, no. Amazon has gross margins of about 21% [yahoo.com] and so does Borders [yahoo.com] . In case that doesn't mean anything to you, 21% gross margin isn't spectacular. That means Amazon and Borders are not making a lot on each sale and there isn't a lot of fat to cut out. Books on Amazon are typically already discounted pretty steeply. Borders doesn't get any economies of scale [wikipedia.org] that aren't also available to Amazon and Borders has physical stores to maintain. Sure, Borders could discount down to zero profit but neither company is likely to do that unless they think they can get some advantage out of it and I can see no advantage for either side in a price war right now.

Re:There's no margin to discount (3, Insightful)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461273)

I've always suspected that Border's biggest margins are on their coffee and muffins.

Books are just a way to get you into the store.

Starbucks vs Borders (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461683)

I've always suspected that Border's biggest margins are on their coffee and muffins.


That's probably true actually. Starbucks has gross margins of almost 59% [yahoo.com] which is obscenely high for any company selling a non-software product. While it's probably not an apples to apples comparison, Borders probably does make better margins on their coffee and deserts than on their books. Even outsourcing the operations to a third party [seattlesbest.com] there still is enough margin there to make a reasonable profit.

Re:There's no margin to discount (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461515)

Of course a web store is easier to maintain than a brick+mortar one, but on Amazon I always only LOOK THINGS UP.

When I was in a Borders once, I BROWSED through their shelves for at least an hour, to buy more than five books, just because I found them interesting. I don't do that with web stores. They are limited by the web browser, and they don't allow the kind of browsing a real book offers. Oh, and even on broadband, sometimes they're just not very snappy (though Amazon manages rather well).

When I was done reading them, I sold most of them on Amazon, heh.

Re:There's no margin to discount (1)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461709)

21% gross margins? I know a lot of computer manufacturers that would kill for 21% margins. Dell runs about 18%.

The real reason Borders is doing this... (1)

notasheep (220779) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460909)

...is because they've seen their business shrink quite a bit over the past few years (relative to their competition) and they're trying to recapture whatever they pay Amazon for selling their books. Of course the cost of creating and maintaining a B2C Web site isn't trivial, so it will be interesting to see if, in the end, this move will raise their revenue - or kill them entirely. Also, in terms of the sales tax - they could reduce the price of their books a little online, still make more revenue per sale, and in the end the customer may be paying the same amount.

That...and Amazon is a competitor of theirs so it doesn't make a lot of sense to support Amazon at their own expense.

Re:Um (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461349)

Sales tax, schmales tax, couldn't they just drop the price of the books they sell so their price with sales tax is competitive with amazon without tax?


Sales tax varies from state to state. It's easy to design the system to show the sales tax during the check-out process, when the customer has to enter his location for billing and shipping purposes, but to affect the prices Borders would either have to discount everything by the maximum sales tax rate in the country, or make customers give their location before they can see prices.

Re:Um (1)

Emperor Cezar (106515) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461753)

It's the business' responsibility for calculating and paying the sales tax. It's a tax on the business, not the consumer. It's customary for it to be added to the bill and calculated as a separate item. This is not a requirement though. I charge you $10 for a book. I can either, charge the tax to you or raise the ticket price to compensate.

A bad move for Borders (3, Insightful)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460425)

The reason Borders partnered with Amazon in the first place was because they couldn't come up with a good enough web site on their own. What has changed since that time? I think their greed is overcoming their common sense here, as Amazon is going to be hard to compete with.

Re:A bad move for Borders (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460565)

Time. They've used the time gained by partnering with Amazon to build their system the way they want it. They've also had the experience of knowing what customers dislike about the web-store of someone who has 'done it right' and how they can improve on it.

Personally, I'm glad. I never liked the fact that when I went to Borders.com to buy a book, I ended up on Amazon.com to do it. I'm guessing Borders also didn't like the fact that people then had a chance to buy it from someone else, possibly a lot cheaper because it was 'used'. This seems like a good business move for them.

Re:A bad move for Borders (5, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460843)

I never liked the fact that when I went to Borders.com to buy a book, I ended up on Amazon.com to do it.

Excuse me, but why go to borders.com at all? Web sites that just rebrand content or services from other web sites have always struck me as really pointless.

The fact that many people must share my perception is probably the main reason Borders is pulling out of the agreement. The fact that borders.com is just amazon.com with slightly different graphics must be painfully obvious to anybody who goes there. So instead of Amazon helping Borders build their brand, Borders is the one helping Amazon! This outweighs any profits Borders gets from the arrangement, which are probably minimal to begin with.

But I still think Borders is fooling themselves if they think they can compete directly with Amazon. Maybe they know more than before, but Amazon is still the 600-pound gorilla in this particular marketplace. Except they may be up to a full ton by now!

Re:A bad move for Borders (2, Informative)

xeoron (639412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461483)

I always found Borders other website [bordersstores.com] far nicer to use and order from.

Re:What About Amazon? (2, Interesting)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460625)

Maybe dealings with Amazon have gotten too bad for borders? IE expensive, bad service.

Also, it's 2007 and there's many more people out there with the skills to put a good site together.

Re:What About Amazon? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461169)

Maybe dealings with Amazon have gotten too bad for borders? IE expensive, bad service.

Also, it's 2007 and there's many more people out there with the skills to put a good site together.
We have a winner folks. Without going into details, I can tell you with a reasonable amount of certainty that Borders was not happy with their relationship with Amazon. Borders was treated as a second-class citizen with regards to most things, and their site wasn't supported very well with regards to bug fixes, etc.

Re:What About Amazon? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461247)

yes there are plenty of people that can put a good site together..

but building something that is onpar to scale as well as amazon does is far from trival or easy or somehing a single person can do..

Re:A bad move for Borders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460641)

I read yesterday on Fark that Borders and Barnes and Noble may be considering a merger. Since B&N competes directly with Amazon, it would seem to me that one of the prerequisites of a merger would be for Borders to drop ties with Amazon.

Re:A bad move for Borders (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461837)

Can I get a 5 pound bag of taffy from B&N for $15? Because I can get that from Amazon. How about miniSD cards? Skis? Survival gear? Knives? Axes? Rope?

Amazon is more than an online bookstore.

Re:A bad move for Borders (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460651)

The reason Borders partnered with Amazon in the first place was because they couldn't come up with a good enough web site on their own.
Not really. They were late to the party, which is a major reason for their small market share in 2001 when they partnered up with Amazon. Overall online book sales were diminishing then, so the future looked bad for their online division. Strapped for cash, Borders traded the possibility of market share gains (long-term benefit) for cash flow from referral commissions from Amazon (short-term benefit).

But, today is far different than 2001. Online retailing has been proven successful for a wide variety of companies, even as an extension of primarily B&M shops. Furthermore, the Amazon brand no longer dominates online retailing -- the online market has matured a bit, to the point where every major B&M retailer has its own online sales division.

NOT a bad move for Borders (2, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460709)

The reason Borders partnered with Amazon in the first place was because they couldn't come up with a good enough web site on their own. What has changed since that time? I think their greed is overcoming their common sense here, as Amazon is going to be hard to compete with.
What has changed is that Amazon got a whole lot bigger than Borders expected.

If one presumes that Borders is trying to go head-to-head with Amazon, then it looks bad. But Borders has spent billions upgrading their B&M stores in the last decade or so. ( Remember when a B&M bookstore was 2000 sq ft with no coffee and a much smaller selection? ) Borders is trying to get some of the online crowd into B&M stores. Borders will be delighted if their online sales break even, or even operate at a small loss.

I predict that we will see Border's web site saying: You can order this book and it will be delivered in x days, OR you can drive y miles and have it today!

Re:NOT a bad move for Borders (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461445)

I predict that we will see Border's web site saying: You can order this book and it will be delivered in x days, OR you can drive y miles and have it today!
Why buy it new if you can buy [buy.com] it used [addall.com] ?

Re:A bad move for Borders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460729)

I don't think so.

I have found Amazon's handling of Borders' online retail presence to be pretty shitty, and I have wondered for a while why they don't just make their own site. I will quantify a little bit of "pretty shitty":

-the search for whether a local store has a particular book in stock was totally unreliable. Often, it would say they didn't have it in stock. I would then go to the local store and see 20 dusty copies on the shelf.

-last time I checked, they did not have a proper "buy online and pick up in store" option that I have find useful at other retailers.

-the "I typed in borders.com, why am I seeing Amazon.com? Can't borders handle their own shit?" factor. This has led to me winding up purchasing an item directly from Amazon.com instead of Amazon.com/borders on more than one occasion. I wonder if Borders knows that?

I think this is ultimately Borders looking out for #1, while they might not be able to compete with Amazon for pure online sales , it will help them compete with others, such as Barnes and Noble.

Re:A bad move for Borders (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460751)

The reason Borders partnered with Amazon in the first place was because they couldn't come up with a good enough web site on their own. What has changed since that time? I think their greed is overcoming their common sense here, as Amazon is going to be hard to compete with.
I would agree with 14erCleaner on this one. Up to this point, Amazon.com has been accepting all of the risk via the front-end. The amazon.com web site keepers have to worry about security, updates, upgrades, etc. Borders part in this? Provide the listing of books and prices to charge.

Re:A bad move for Borders (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460831)

I work for the company that is designing their new website, and was at their corporate office for a month. They are putting a lot of money into their new site. The architecture is very solid, and I think it will definitely be competitive.

Re:A bad move for Borders (2, Interesting)

_|()|\| (159991) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461751)

The reason Borders partnered with Amazon in the first place was because they couldn't come up with a good enough web site on their own. What has changed since that time?

I don't know about the business side of it, but as a customer I rather liked borders.com, and I deleted it from my bookmarks when it merged with Amazon. In fact, it was a disincentive to shop at Borders stores. Buy.com has since taken up some of the slack, although my opinion of them has declined recently.

One thing that has changed is the rewards card program. I don't know whether Borders had one back then, but they seem to be promoting it pretty aggressively now. The FAQ list [bordersrewards.com] says that rewards can't be earned or redeemed at borders.com at this time. I would expect that to change once they ditch Amazon.

borders competing with amazon? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460435)

I think borders would only be competing with Amazon's book arm. Back in the late 90's, Amazon may have directly competed with an online version of Borders, but now Amazon is like Wal-mart, in that they sell a large swath of other products besides books. Borders may now compete more directly with Barnes & Noble, though, where before Amazon floated them clean past their physical-store rivals.

Re:borders competing with amazon? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460525)

Borders sells DVDs and CDs as well. Also, I've seen random music related electronics at my local borders as well...

Re:borders competing with amazon? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461171)

Kinda. They certainly sell all kinds of media, but electronics is strictly done on a limited basis. You wouldn't walk into Borders looking for a 5.1 Receiver. You certainly wouldn't walk into Borders looking for a washing machine, some patio furniture, a diamond bracelet, a mobile phone battery, one of those little power cables you use to plug disk drives into, a leather jacket, shoes, and a Wi-Fi router.

Amazon.com, on the other hand... that's just scratching the surface of what they do.

Re:borders competing with amazon? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461613)

but I wouldn't get those thigns from amazone any more than I would get them from borders. Then again, I'm only willing to buy multimedia (hard only, not pure digital) and computer components online...

For a $50 book... (2, Insightful)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460437)

For a $50 book, I'd rather pay $4 in sales tax and 25 cents in gas than pay $5 for shipping and having to wait a week... Besides, the new competition might even drive the costs down making the whole "extra cost" issue moot.

Re:For a $50 book... (1)

BadERA (107121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460497)

Most $50 books on Amazon are going to qualify for free Super Saver shipping, and they never take more than 2 days to show up for me after they ship, which is typically the same day as I order. This was true for me in Rochester, NY as well as in Albany, NY, so I'd have to think that it's pretty typical, not just locational.

Re:For a $50 book... (2, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460849)

Very true. That $50 book would most likely have free shipping on it.

I think Amazon.com did a smart thing with the free shipping offer. That $25 minimum to quality has encouraged me to add one more item to many of my purchases to avoid paying the shipping. No B&M bookstore can hope to compete to with the selection and ease of search that Amazon.com offers me.

Re:For a $50 book... (1)

gallwapa (909389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460861)

On that note, we ordered some books and DVDs from Amazon here in Washington - they shipped within a day and arrived the day after that.

Re:For a $50 book... (1)

tsalaroth (798327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460869)

Comparing two cities in the same state is far from eliminating location. Try getting them in 2 days in say, Moab, Utah..

Re:For a $50 book... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460965)

I live in Austin, TX, and used to live in Boise, ID. In both locations, items shipped with the Super Saver shipping took about a week to get there.

So, I'd have to say it's absolutely locational. Comparing two locations that are only a few hundred miles away from each other isn't really a good enough sampling to say the experience is the same nationwide.

Re:For a $50 book... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461033)

It takes at least a week for "Super Saver" shipping to reach Washington, DC.

Re:For a $50 book... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461959)

THere's also Amazon Prime- $75 a year for free 2 day shipping on almost all orders, and reduced price next day shipping.

Re:For a $50 book... (1)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461963)

5-7 days in Pittsburgh

Re:For a $50 book... (1)

the_banjomatic (1061614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461203)

This is of course assuming that you are able to find the book in-store. The last 9 books I bought from amazon were either by-order only or out of print.

What about Delaware? (1)

thousandinone (918319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460457)

Delaware does not have a standard sales tax (aside from taxes affixed to certain items ahead of time like cigarettes, that is), so I suppose it would be 49 states then? Then again, Delaware may well not be the only state without sales tax.

Re:What about Delaware? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460607)

Pretty sure there isn't one in Florida. Of course, that may only be on food.

When my family went to Alabama for a while, we were near the Florida border, and we always got food there due to a lack of sales tax.

Re:What about Delaware? (1)

saider (177166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460889)


Florida has sales taxes so we can make the tourists pay for everything. In fact, we are thinking of upping the sales tax (from 6% to around 9%) and decreasing or eliminating property taxes for homeowners.

Florida is pretty nice, tax wise. Reasonable sales tax, no income tax. If we get the property tax eliminated, then homeowners will pocket more money. Renters and businesses will not do so well, however.

Re:What about Delaware? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461005)

Ahh, ok. maybe that was it. I think Alabama's sales tax was ridiculous then.

Re:What about Delaware? (1)

Hamilton Publius (909539) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460975)

Florida has no income tax, so their sales tax (perhaps on non-food items) is actually quite high to compensate. Tourism drives its economic engine, so sales tax makes them a lot of money.

Re:What about Delaware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460639)

New Hampshire is the only state with neither a sales tax nor a state income tax! There is a room and meals tax, so that tourists pay most of the taxes!

Re:What about Delaware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461071)

Oregon is also sans sales tax. Can't pump your own gas either as I recall.

New Hampshire as well... (1)

Lijemo (740145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461389)

New Hampshire also doesn't have a sales tax. (Or an income tax for that matter. They do everything they can to try to tax the tourists rather than the residents...)

Re:What about Delaware? (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461763)

No, Delaware isn't the only state w/o a sales tax. In Alaska, various municipalities may institute a sales tax, but there isn't a state-wide sales tax. In Anchorage, no sales tax. Sixty miles to the southwest in Kenai, however, there is.

Makes me wonder what sales tax Borders.com wants to charge people like you and me when/if we were to go to their web site to order a book....

Re:What about Delaware? (2, Insightful)

assantisz (881107) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461825)

These are the US states that have a 0% state sales tax:

Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

That said, individual cities are allowed to charge sales tax, though. While the state sales tax in New York is somewhere around 4% you will pay more than 8% in New York City. If you shop in Bethel, Alaska, you will pay 5% in sales tax even though Alaska itself has 0%.

Other states make distinctions between the products that are being sold. Groceries, for example, are very often not taxed. Clothing up to $110 per item is exempt from city sales tax in NYC but you still have to pay the 4% state sales tax (or was that the other way around?)

Mail-order sales taxes (2, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460459)

Slightly off-topic:

How soon before the next serious effort to force mail-order and electronic retailers to charge some form of sales tax for out-of-state purchases?

Way off-topic:
How many people actually bother to pay "use taxes" on goods they buy from out-of-state mail-order houses? How soon before a politician is brought down for failing to pay "use tax" on a $10,000 luxury item he bought mail-order to avoid paying a few hundred dollars in state sales taxes?

Re:Mail-order sales taxes (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460673)

It's impractical to penalize for not submitting use tax for small ticket items, as such, Michigan has a very lenient amnesty program, if you earn $30k, I think it's $10 and it looks like you are free and clear for all sub $1k items.

A $10k item is a different matter. If it's a vehicle, then that is covered by the title fees. I'm not sure if politicians are really properly held accountable for not proper tax filing.

Re:Mail-order sales taxes (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460737)

Kansas, for one, now collects use tax on your state income tax return. You can either figure an exact amount based on your purchases or an estimated amount based on your adjusted gross income, but you'd better enter _something_ on that line.

Re:Mail-order sales taxes (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461053)

My guess is that people are growing less antagonistic to the idea of charging tax on internet sales as the novelty wears off, and web-order companies are less fragile than they were perceived to be even 5 years ago. But there's still the logistical problem of tracking and assessing the correct taxes for every state, county, & city, not to mention international sales.

I can't remember the reason why a mail-order (or web-order) outfit doesn't have to collect sales tax based on the location of the *company*, though. That would shake things up quite a bit (for better or for worse)!

Re:Mail-order sales taxes (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461519)

"That would shake things up quite a bit (for better or for worse)!"

It would be for the worse, as every company will move to Delaware of some other tax haven depriving every other state of income.

All 50? (0, Redundant)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460479)

Why in Oregon when don't have a sales tax?

All 50 States? (5, Informative)

rherbert (565206) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460485)

Borders will collect sales tax in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon, who do not assess sales tax state-wide [wikipedia.org] ? That's kind of odd.

Re:All 50 States? (2, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460629)

Yep, they'll collect the sales tax for those states at the proper rate: 0%

They just won't bother reporting it.

Re:All 50 States? (2, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461075)

>> Amazon collects sales taxes only on books sold in Washington, North Dakota, Kentucky and Kansas.

Amazon built facilities in four states. In three of those states the populace can't read. That's kind of odd.

Re:All 50 States? (1)

copyright1989 (698249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461271)

I'm pretty sure that sales tax on mail orders only applies when the selling company has some kind of corporate presence in that state; that's why some small company in Montana wouldn't charge sales tax to sell honey over the InterTubes to a guy in California. I think. Maybe.

Re:All 50 States? (1)

copyright1989 (698249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461539)

Addition: Except I still don't know what tax Montanans would pay (local tax? magic out-of-state Borders-land tax?), even though Borders does have a presence here. Maybe all those "hurr they pay 0% tax hurr" people are right.

Not only odd, probably illegal. (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461577)

You can't charge someone a tax that doesn't exist, and then pocket the money.

In all 50 states? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460531)

Companies have to charge a sales tax for Internet sales if they have a physical presence in states that collect sales taxes
Borders would collect sales taxes in all 50 states, the company said.

So if I bought a book from Borders' new web site, which state would I, as a New Hampshire resident, pay said sales tax to?

Re:In all 50 states? (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461201)

Montana.

huh (2, Funny)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460533)

are they going to compete with Amazon? Doesn't Amazon have a patent on selling books online?

Re:huh (1)

tsalaroth (798327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461039)

No, you cannot patent a business model (though business methods are up in the air). Their patent is on "one-click purchase" or something like that. Last I heard there was a legal battle involving it.

Re:huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461477)

whooosh

Sales tax in all 50 states (0, Redundant)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460563)

Oregon does not have sales tax. I wonder what they will do with the sales tax collected on Oregon sales?

Re:Sales tax in all 50 states (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460989)

Congrats for being deliberately obtuse to show off your pedantry. The correct sales tax in your state is 0%, which Borders will collect and pocket. Now STFU.

Sales Tax in All 50 States (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460619)

Borders would collect sales taxes in all 50 states, the company said.
Really? How would that work, given that Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not have a state sales tax?

Publisher (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460693)

I wonder how hard it would be for Amazon to enter publishing business, they could easily buy out a company such as lulu and brand their own Amazon books.

Nevada? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18460779)

Most of the time when I order something from Amazon they are shipped from Fernley, Nevada, a town about 30 miles east of Reno. That means that Amazon has a point-of-presence in Nevada. Are they not charing sales tax for Nevada residents as well? Are items ordered from the Internet exempt from Nevada sales tax? I live in California so I wouldn't know. I only know that Amazon doesn't charge California sales tax which is a godsend when you're buying things like laptops and such. Of course, you're *SUPPOSED* to pay tax on items obtained out-of-state and through mail order on your state income tax form but I've never met anyone who has told me that they've paid it.... except me. *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

Re:Nevada? (1)

LVWolfman (301977) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461947)

Yes, Amazon charges me Nevada sales tax when I order from them. They have a large warehouse/shipping depot here. Just another case where a summary (and perhaps fine article) on /. is inaccurate.

Books Close their Borders with Amazon (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460783)

I like this title better.

As for the sales tax issue, people will just use froogle or something and find the lowest price without the tax and then buy that book, most likely.

I'm not surprised (1)

uvsc_wolverine (692513) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460793)

I've only ordered something on Amazon once for in-store pickup in Borders, and I actually ended up getting the book for free because the Borders store employees didn't know how to properly complete the transaction. When the charge never showed up on my credit card I even called Borders and talked to the manager (felt like stealing to me) and he said that it was their screwup and that I could keep the $30 book. Admittedly this is probably an anomaly, but I'm sure it's happened to more people than just me.

Damnit. Christmas just became more difficult. (1)

mrfett (610302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460873)

i was just getting relatives to give Borders gift cards instead of B&N ones so that I could use them on Amazon. that was extremely useful. rats!

Didn't Borders used to have its own website? (2, Insightful)

openaddy (852404) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461077)

A long time ago..? I remember going to the Borders website, found which store location had the DVD I was looking for in stock, went and bought it.

Different customers have different needs, but for me, the ability to search a store's inventory is more useful than being able to place a mail-order an item over the web. I can order something from a gazillion places, but if a store nearby physically has it, I'll swing by and pick it up.

I'm always a little surprised that not all stores w/ web presence do this. The inventory search doesn't even have to be that current -- at least narrow down the availability for me, and I can call the store and double check.

Re:Didn't Borders used to have its own website? (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461283)

I've used inventory search on the web for gadgets at Radio Shack and tools at Sears. Definitely worthwhile for things that are sold in enough volume to be stocked (many books aren't).

If Borders will let you place orders for those small-volume items on the web and have them ready for pickup at a local store, I'd do that too-- I go to borders often enough, and book purchases are rarely so urgent that I need to pay for shipping.

Re:Didn't Borders used to have its own website? (1)

cparker15 (779546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461651)

They still do. bordersstores.com [bordersstores.com]

Taxes v. Shipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461099)

Yeah, but they can ship FROM ALL 50 states.

I'm guessing cheaper.

Have You Ever Been To a Clean Borders? (0, Offtopic)

ShrapnelFace (1001368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461119)

I have been to more tha 20 of these stores and they are usually ransacked shelves with filthy floors and that piss poor Seattles Best coffee in them.

This isnt a big deal at all- In fact it may actually help Amazon because now they can guarantee a higher quality of service.

Re:Have You Ever Been To a Clean Borders? (1)

wbd (88361) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461439)

Yes, I have.

The Borders I go to is Des Moines is clean and well stocked, and full of friendly and helpful people. I wonder if it's where you live, as opposed to the company?

I know that when I visited my sister when she was stationed in California, most of the stores we went in there were usually filthy and poorly stocked compared to the same company's stores in Des Moines (not talking Borders here, but stores in general, such as K-Mart, etc.) Perhaps too many people crammed into one area?

Re:Have You Ever Been To a Clean Borders? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461499)

I've been impressed with every Borders store I've been in. Clean floors and well organized shelves.

Particularly, Borders does a better job than anyone else in organizing their technical books section in a way that actually makes sense. In a B&N, I have to look through the entire technical books section to make sure they don't have something where in Borders, if they've got it, it's where I would expect it to be. Borders is also far more likely to carry historically important books like K&R, Mythical Man Month, the Latex Companion, etc.

Re:Have You Ever Been To a Clean Borders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18461561)

The Borders where I live is spotless and well-organized.

Re:Have You Ever Been To a Clean Borders? (1)

endianx (1006895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461725)

All that I have been to in Virginia have been pretty nice.

I am huge fan of Amazon (prime member and all) and they get most of my business. But sometimes I want to be able to page through a book before I buy it and for those times I go to Borders.

The article omitted at least one state (1)

Darth_Foo (608063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461347)

Amazon also charges sales tax in Tennessee (all 9.975% of it) because they use distribution warehouses there to ship out literally tons of merchandise every day.

Even Oregon? (0, Redundant)

kvn (64836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461513)

We don't have a sales tax...

Same difference to the honest man (1)

dim5 (844238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461593)

If I don't pay the sales tax at the time of purchase, I'm still legally obligated to report untaxed purchases and pay up when I file my taxes, right?

Of course, I know few people who presently keep track of all of their online spending, but isn't Amazon's advantage here only an advantage to those who lie on their tax forms?

Maryland, and use taxes (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461705)

How about those states who not only have sales tax, but an out-of-state "use" tax for all material being mailed in. Dell actually collects that!

Tax Misconception (1)

dctoastman (995251) | more than 6 years ago | (#18461891)

There seems to be some sort of misconception regarding sales taxes.
Sales taxes cost a B&M absolutely zero. That's something that they collect on behalf of the government and then give to them. (So they also don't profit from it either.)

And technically, you should declare all items that you didn't pay sales tax on to your state when you file your (state) income tax so you can be taxed accordingly. For those states without an income tax, I'm not sure exactly how that would work.
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