Forty-eight hours after Gov. Jerry Brown signed California’s sales tax fairness provision, which requires out-of-state retailers to collect taxes on sales made to California customers, Barnes & Noble has issued a statement.
“We thank Governor Jerry Brown for demonstrating his commitment to California businesses by signing e-fairness into law. This legislation will directly benefit California businesses by creating a fair marketplace,” said William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer, Barnes & Noble. “We believe that e-fairness will improve the economy, add jobs, and help struggling businesses everywhere in California. By signing this law, the Governor has made clear that his priorities are to help bolster economic recovery. This is a huge win for business in the state of California.”
It’s not hard to sense the glee in B&N’s statement as they watch their biggest competitor take a tumble in another state and cut ties with more affiliates. But it’s also hard not to see a measure of hypocrisy in Barnes & Noble championing a level playing field, when in the not-so-distant past B&N was running independent bookstores to the ground with their discounts.
It’s understandable for people out there to relish the sight of Amazon, in the big faceless corporate sense, squirm around as fairness prevails (and, no matter which way you cut it, the e-fairness legislation is nothing if not fair). But don’t forget all the affiliates that got dumped in the process–they’re the ones who are really losing here, not big, bad Amazon. Hopefully it won’t take another 12 years of legal battling to make things fair for them, too.