Monday, December 08, 2014

Isn't It Ironic

There is no love lost between Amazon and the publishing community that calls New York City home. The traditional publishing houses feel the financial pressure from that upstart in Seattle, and it wasn't that long ago that Amazon was locked in a cold war with Hachette Book Group, a battle that was waged on the editorial pages of the New York Times.

The employees of those big five publishers pay taxes in New York, whether they pay as residents or people who work in the Big Apple. The fruits of their labor fill the state's coffers, but they have no real say in what happens to that hard-earned money. If they do not vote in New York, say, if they reside in New Jersey or Connecticut, the matter is entirely out of their hands. And for those publishing folk who do vote, they are too few in number to have any significant effect on the elected representatives who are hard at work attracting new jobs to New York.
Albany, New York, where they feel the love for Amazon

Isn't it ironic, that the publishers who would like Amazon to go away, are seeing their tax money go to Amazon?

The state of New York is trying to attract new jobs, but it's tough to compete with cheaper places like Texas where the cost of doing business is lower, and therefore serves as a large incentive. Businesses exist to turn a profit, and if locating in Place A as compared to Place B would boost the bottom line by 2%, it's not hard to figure out where said business is going.

So New York offers tax incentives to level the field, while the difference is made up by those already there. The residents of New York, whether they like Amazon or not, are going to be donating $5 million in incentives to a behemoth that has likely driven their local independent book shop out of business via predatory pricing.

How does it feel, to be in fear of losing your job because of Amazon's pressure on your employer to offer steeper discounts on books, and to know that your elected officials are going to use your tax money to help Amazon expand in Manhattan? You don't much want Amazon to grow, especially not in your own back yard, but there it is, right across from the Empire State Building for the next seventeen years.

Amazon is renting space, so the cost of starting up does not entail the expenses of building. There is a lack of permanence in renting, meaning Amazon can pull out any time if things don't work out, and then be out some small penalty to the state for backing out of the deal.

Amazon says they will create 500 new jobs over ten years, which sounds like a fairly rosy projection. What might those 500 souls be about?

Will the attempt to become a player in the publishing game be pursued in the belly of the publishing beast? Or will this additional office space be utilized for procurement operations or distributions?

Whatever the space is used for, it cannot be good for the publishers who are paying taxes that are turned over to their enemy to help that enemy grow bigger and stronger.

Isn't it ironic.

Any authors or publishing executives out there preparing letters of outrage to their state representative?

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