With the taste of Starbucks’ blood fresh in my mouth I’m conscious that the conniving coffee colossus is not the only one to be side stepping paying their taxes in this country and, while it is easier to boycott or occupy a coffee shop than a search engine, it’s important that other tax averse multi-nationals also feel the sting of our tax hungry wrath.
With that in mind Amazon have paid little to nothing in taxation here and yet will be making a tidy sum from Christmas shoppers. Now is the time to at least give them a little dig. But there’s no use asking people not to use Amazon, that can provide easily bought books, cds et al at an often reasonable price, unless we’re presenting some alternatives.
So if you’re doing your Christmas shopping online – here’s a few tax paying alternatives;
First of all there is, of course, the real world. Your high street, local shops and small bookshops in particular need your support find them here). As the likes of Amazon drain shoppers away from bookshops at this crucial period it’s not such a burden to soak up the atmosphere of one of these book lined paradises, or “record” shops.
They may not have the infinite selection, but they certainly do have the hidden gems and character that mean the time and effort invested can reap rich rewards. Shops like the Big Green Bookshop in Haringey, Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town or the free bookshop in Tufnell Park (pictured) are worth supporting in the ever diminishing diversity of our economy. Of course what’s local will be determined by where you live.
Second you might like to try some of the right-on lefty bookshops that will provide you with some gloriously revolutionary gifts for granny. I’d recommend Housmans, Word Power, Persephone, Bookmarks, Freedom Press, or News From Nowhere who all sell online. I’m sure there are others, let me know your favourite and I’ll add it in (if it sells online).
The advantage of these places is that they will have a strong selection of politically fruity books, so you know what you’re getting upfront as, just by stocking titles, they are giving a mini-recommendation. Each of those places listed have their own flavour of Trotskyist, pluralist, feminist, anarcho literature, you pay your money, you take your choice.
Third you can go direct to the publishers. Penguin, Pluto Press, Zero Books, and Guardian Books, for example, sell straight to the customer as do all the main booksellers. Green Metropolis and Better World Books are a great ways to buy second hand books and encourage peer to peer selling, or Oxfam Books.
Alternatively there other Amazon-like online stores. Twitter has recommended to me Hive, Play.com, Book People, and Red House for children’s books. When you buy from these sites you’re often buying from small bookshops so it’s kind of win-win. I’d also like to recommend Abe Books – but they’re owned by Amazon so I can’t!
At the end of the day it’s far harder to create a “white list” of good places to go than it is to create a “black list” of dodgy companies that we should try to avoid. However, while we can’t shop ourselves to utopia this is the period where we can send a message to Amazon specifically that their robust attitude towards not paying taxes in the UK costs them both good will and money.
Without that tax revenue our public services die – the least we can do is try to shift our habits towards those companies who like to pay their fair share.
Have I missed out an alternative you’d like me to list? Contact me (see directly below this post) and I may well add in your suggestion).