Amazon LogoThis Wednesday reinstated the California participants in its associates program.  Amazon had thrown out all California associates earlier this year when a new state law threatened to make online Amazon purchases taxable in California, and this week’s reinstatement came after the state and Amazon reached a compromise which was reflected in a law signed by Governor Brown.

You can now again visit Ozdachs business web site, click on the Amazon logo, buy things from Amazon, and I’ll get pennies for your purchase.

Yes, Ozdachs is an Amazon associate, and over a year period I probably earn $100 or so in commissions.  Obviously, I am not seriously flogging Amazon, nor am I really depending on its revenue to feed the dogs.  I signed up because I wanted to suggest books and related items, and the program was a good way to share my recommendations.

My minimal involvement as an Amazon associate aside, the reinstatement of California associates does raise two important issues.

  • Issue #1 – the relative fairness of having Internet companies deliver goods tax free when local stores have to pay taxes.  This is a political/moral question which I’m happy to talk about. Personally, I support local stores and am willing to pay up about 15% more for items from them.  I think that should be enough, since the issue of 8.5% sales tax is balanced by the cost of one-off shipping which online retailers have to deal with.  Frankly, I buy online because of selection and convenience more than pure price.  But, we can discuss about this point if you disagree.
  • Issue #2 – if you own a web site, why aren’t you an Amazon associate?  Especially if you are a non-profit, why not have a recommended reading page that your members and friends can visit and see your latest reading tips.

The Amazon associate program is free.  Applying for the account and setting up commission transfers to your bank takes, what, an hour?

Once you set up your account, you can post small, tasteful suggestions that people click through to Amazon in general or you can link to a specific book or product. (Amazon also provides tools for you to create category pages and other banners, if you’re really going into eCommerce, but that’s a different type of web site than most of my customers have.)

Your Amazon recommendations are actually helpful to your web visitors.  Suggestion of quality resources is good web content!

Plus, you’ll earn some money.  Even though it’s not a lot, even $100 a year is better than $0.  And, if your web site is popular, and your Amazon suggestions compelling, you can earn considerably more.  Again, non-profits whose web site visitors want to support the cause can make noticeable commissions as supporters decide to buy from your links, knowing that they’re helping you.

Deal with the 2 Issues

Let’s chat about whether governments should continue to allow Internet sites to sell without collecting sales taxes.  At the same time, if you’re a web master, think about what books and goods you can honestly recommend, and sign up with Amazon to buy kibble for your dogs.