BTW News Briefs

USA Today Analysis: Tax-Free Internet Sales Have Big Impact

“Sales taxes last year took the smallest percentage of consumers’ dollars since 1967 as tax-free Internet sales and untaxed services continued to erode state and local governments’ top source of revenue,” according to a report this week in USA Today.

Noting that governments have raised sales tax rates in recent years to get more money, the paper observed that “consumers are a step ahead, buying less of what’s taxed and using the Internet to save money. The result: higher tax rates covering a shrinking share of purchases.”

The Bureau of Economic Analysis found that Americans paid an average 4.27 percent sales tax rate on purchases in 2011, down from 4.63 percent five years ago and far below the peak of 5.18 percent in 1973.

Among the other top reasons for the sales tax decline are sales tax exemptions and a long-term shift to buying tax-exempt services, such as medical care, college tuition, health clubs, pet grooming, and other services, that are rarely covered by the sales tax rather than taxable goods.

E-Book Consumers Increasingly Turn to Apps and Online Retailers

E-book consumers are increasingly turning to online retailers and in-app purchasing for books in both print and e-book formats, and they’re decreasing their use of brick-and-mortar stores, according to the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)’s Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey.

According to the latest instalment of the study, more than half of e-book readers increased their use of apps to purchase books and more than one-third increased their use of general retail websites such as In addition, more than a third of e-book buyers said they decreased their spending at national chains and 29 percent said they are buying less from their local indie.

 “The e-book market is developing very quickly, with consumer attitudes and behavior changing over the course of months, rather than years,” observed BISG Deputy Executive Director Angela Bole.

The BISG study also found that nearly three-quarters of e-book Power Buyers (those who acquire e-books at least weekly) are purchasing more titles overall and nearly half were spending more on books in all formats.

While dedicated e-readers remain the dominant e-reading platform, multi-function tablet devices and smartphones are gaining in popularity, according to the study:

  • Almost 17 percent of respondents indicated that tablets were the devices most used to read e-books — up from 13 percent in the previous survey.
  • Respondents who preferred smartphones jumped from 5.3 percent to 9.2 percent.
  • Dedicated e-readers were preferred by 60.9 percent of all respondents, down from 71.6 percent in the previous survey.

The survey findings are available for sale both as a PDF Summary Report and as a complete data compendium, accessible online. A discount is available for BISG members.

Harper Campaign Celebrates Maisie Month

To celebrate the hardcover publication of Elegy for Eddie, an April 2012 Indie Next Great Read, and the trade paperback publication of A Lesson in Secrets, Harper Books is celebrating Maisie Month with a series of Twitter chats featuring the books’ author Jacqueline Winspear, Book Passage co-owner Elaine Petrocelli, and others. The Twitter hashtag is #Maisie.

In addition, the entire Maisie Dobbs series will be read and discussed throughout the month with the help of book bloggers. The schedule of Twitter chats and read-alongs is available here.

Perseus and NBN Agree to Terms With Amazon

Publishers Lunch reported this week that Perseus Books Group and National Book Network have come to agreements on terms with that include payment of co-op for e-book sales.

On February 20, in a dispute over terms, pulled titles distributed by Independent Publishers Group, and on Monday of this week Educational Development Corporation (EDC) said it was no longer selling its titles on Amazon or to any entities that resell to Amazon. In 2009, EDC had stopped selling its Kane Miller list on Amazon, and with this move it will no longer sell the Usborne line of roughly 1,500 titles, according to Publishers Lunch.

Open Road Partners With Ingram to Print and Distribute E-riginals

Ingram Publisher Services and Lightning Source will distribute print versions of a group of Open Road Integrated Media’s e-books, beginning this month.

“Since our inception, we have offered print-on-demand versions of all our E-riginals and of a small number of e-books of out-of-print titles, said Christopher Davis, Open Road’s COO. “We find it is now time to broaden our reach into the retail space.”

The first selection of e-riginals to be brought print under the new arrangement includes titles by  by Mary Glickman, Eileen Goudge, Richard Kirschenbaum, Bob Marley,  Susan Morse,  and Mark Salzman.

NACS and Amazon Settle Suit Over Advertising Claims

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) against for false advertising to promote textbook sales.  

NACS had taken exception to Amazon’s advertising discounts of 30 percent on new college textbooks and 90 percent on used ones, according to Bloomberg News. The case was settled after Amazon provided NACS with the methodology it used to substantiate its savings claims. While neither endorsing the methodology nor the results obtained, NACS agreed there was no current dispute about the advertising claims, and both groups agreed to no further challenges to advertising claims for one year.

OverDrive to Bring Potter E-Books to Libraries

J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore has signed a worldwide e-book and digital audiobook distribution agreement with OverDrive that will make the seven titles in the Harry Potter series available to public and school libraries. Under the terms of the agreement, OverDrive will manage hosting and digital fulfillment for libraries for Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks in English and more than 20 other languages to a network of more than 18,000 public and school libraries worldwide.