Friday, 15 September 2017

"A short distance away"

From The Guardian:

The discrepancy was condemned by the Booksellers Association’s Giles Clifton, head of corporate affairs. “The BA has already highlighted the unequal treatment meted out by the business-rates system to British booksellers, the staggering 17 times differential between what the Waterstones on Bedford High Street pays in comparison with the Amazon business unit a short distance away,” said Clifton.

A short distance away?

Waterstone's have got a prime site in the middle of the shopping district in Bedford. The nearest Amazon warehouse I can find is five miles out of town in the middle of some fields, near Junction 13 of the M1 (rather conveniently). In location value terms, those are opposite ends of the spectrum.

On a per square foot basis, we'd expect the ratio to be something like 17 to 1, ergo the Business Rates should be about 17 times as much. (If he means that the total rates for the bookshop is 17 times as much as the total rates for Amazon's huge warehouse, then that is slightly more worrying).

Of course, if Waterstone's in Bedford thought that they could sell more profit by relocating to a large warehouse near Junction 13 of the M1, they'd do it. Fact is they can't, that's why they are where they are. They make more money by simply being where they are, and that extra money is what the Business Rates is a tax on (albeit in a very crude fashion).

This bit is a hoot as well:

CEBR director Oliver Hogan said that bricks-and-mortar bookshops had a range of advantages that Amazon did not offer, from involvement “with more reluctant readers, helping them to find books they might enjoy”, to the events they put on and the “physical interface” that “can trigger different and unpredictable exploration of themes and topics beyond what was intended”.

No disrespect to bookshops and the people who work there, but you stumble across a load more random stuff by mucking about on the internet than by browsing in a bookshop.


Lola said...

"...but you stumble across a load more random stuff by mucking about on the internet than by browsing in a bookshop.... What can you mean...:-)

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, stuff you didn't know you didn't know. All sort of statistics and analyses, theories and so on. And porn.

James Higham said...

"The nearest Amazon warehouse I can find is five miles out of town in the middle of some fields ..."

In large continent terms though, the distance is small.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, in miles, it is not far. In location value terms, it's the other end of the spectrum.