Somewhere out in space, there really is an asteroid with our name on it. The chances are, Monday Books will be long gone before it hits, but you never know. That’s why they’re thinking of firing lasers at it if they spot it in time. In the film Armageddon, some bloke from NASA says he thinks this is pretty pointless: it would be like ‘shooting a b.b. gun at a freight train’. But what would actually happen if you shot b.b. guns at a freight train? Presumably, enough of them could actually stop the thing? Randall Munroe’s brilliant what if? answers this, with proper physics etc.
This is a really, really good site (and no, we’re not publishing their book, we’ve been beaten to it).
In The Guardian, High Street books stores attack Amazon for ‘tax avoidance’.
I have mixed emotions about this: I love bookshops, particularly indies, and I do support them by buying stuff from them. I’d also like to sell more books in at lower discounts (Amazon’s discounts are punishing). But, as a reader, I love getting a £9.99 paperback for a couple of quid, plus postage. I also just love Amazon, generally. Life would be so much more irksome without it. In the last week, I have used it to buy several books, two torches, four packs of playing cards, some lightbulbs, some white t-shirts and marker pens (for a children’s party) and some vacuum cleaner bags – all without leaving my desk. When you add that saving – the cost of my own time – to the obvious, bottom line saving…
Janet Stewart, manager of the Gerrards Cross Bookshop in Buckinghamshire, was quick to sign up to the new promotion. ‘I think people are becoming more aware of the fact that Amazon and other places aren’t paying their taxes, so we decided to get involved,’ she said. ‘We’re trying to promote ourselves: we’re honest, hardworking people who do pay our taxes – support your local bookshop is the message.’
‘We pay tax on everything, rates, rents, staffing as well as corporation tax. Rates on out-of-town and industrial parks are lower than high-street rates,’ Frances Smith of Kenilworth Books told the Bookseller. ‘Perhaps with the decline of the high street, local authorities should look at their ratings structures and reduce the amount small businesses pay and government should seriously look at ways of rejuvenating the high street.
Lower taxes, lower rates – good luck with that!
(No comments: is someone at The Guardian worried that that newspaper’s own tax avoidance schemes might be mentioned? Or are they more concerned than Janet Stewart about libel? Because, as Tim Worstall explains, in The Times [but here reproduced on his own blog], maybe isn’t tax avoidance at all.)
Finally, Theodore Dalrymple on ‘Choice without Consequences’.